5 Places to Explore Native American History
Our nation’s history didn’t start in 1492. Taking time to explore the rich history of indigenous cultures across America is both essential and enlightening. Across North America there are destinations to visit where families can learn and better understand the fascinating heritage, illuminating stories, and accurate history that will help build a greater connection with Native American communities—both past and present. From Arizona to Washington D.C., these are five of our favorite places to visit for an educational and amazing U.S. vacation.
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
The only living Native American community designated as both a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Taos Pueblo is nearly 1000 years old and is a perfect way to experience authentic Native American living. Made of adobe—earth mixed with straw and water—and formed into bricks, the pueblo was most likely built between 1000 and 1450, and still stands today. Visitors can take a guided horseback ride through the reservation before an optional guided tour through the pueblo itself, which teaches the site’s unique history.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Another New Mexico destination is Albuquerque, home to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Featuring more than 20 breathtaking murals made by Pueblo artists and inspired by the earth’s four seasons and bounty, there are also rotating exhibits and special events. Also in Albuquerque is the annual Gathering of Nations—the world’s largest Native American cultural event. Each April, thousands of people from hundreds of tribes gather to celebrate through dance, art, music, and more.
Home to 22 federally-recognized Native American tribes, Phoenix is a wonderful destination to discover indigenous history and culture. Check out the Heard Museum, with 11 galleries showcasing both traditional and contemporary Native American art. Visitors should also stop by the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, just outside of downtown Phoenix. A 1,500-year-old site, this must-see site includes both outdoor and indoor experiences, including a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village, replicated prehistoric houses, and galleries exploring the Hohokam people’s history, culture, and art (including a specific children’s gallery).
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
If you’re already in Arizona, we recommend taking a day trip up to Antelope Canyon. One of the most gorgeous places in America, this colorful sandstone canyon was carved by running water over thousands of years. Located on Navajo land, it’s one of the tribe’s most sacred places and can only be accessed with a local guide. During your tour through the canyon, your Navajo guide will point out everything from the local plants used for medicinal purposes to the stories and lore about the canyon itself.
National Museum of the American Indian, Washington D.C.
Part of the famed Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the five-story museum located in the southeastern part the National Mall was purposefully designed to resemble a natural rock smoothed by wind and water over thousands of years. Inside, the galleries are organized by geographical region and host more than 800,000 objects and 125,000 photographs from indigenous people in both North and South America. The museum is also managed by Native Americans, ensuring the most authentic experience from the guided tours to the Mitsitam Native Foods Café serving up Indian fry bread tacos, bison, and wild salmon. (There is also a second, smaller location in New York City located in lower Manhattan.)
To plan an American history-inspired vacation, connect with your Liberty Travel consultant to plan and book your unique itinerary.
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