5 Places to Experience Native American Culture

Here are the top five places and events in the United States where you can experience Native American culture.


1. National Museum of the American Indian Washington, D.C.

National Museum of the American Indian. Washington, D.C.

America's first national museum dedicated exclusively to Native American heritage, the National Museum of the American Indian highlights more than 12,000 years of history from more than 1,200 Native American cultures. The museum has one of the world's most expensive collections of Native American arts, artifacts, and audio visual and photographic archives. Permanent exhibits delve into indigenous religions and ceremonies, and the contemporary struggle that indigenous communities wage for their identity. Located on the National Mall in Washington, DC Housed in a curved limestone building designed to represent a rock formation, the NMAI (National Museum of the American Indian) frequently hosts cultural festivals, concerts and symposiums. At the museum's Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, visitors can enjoy indigenous and contemporary cuisine from all parts of the Americas, including tortillas and buffalo burgers.

2. Cherokee Heritage Center Tahlequah, Okla.

Cherokee Heritage Center. Tahlequah, Okla.

On the slopes of the Ozark Mountains in Oklahoma are the 18 hectares that comprise the Cherokee Heritage Center (Cherokee Heritage Centre), a center dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee tribal culture and artifacts. Tour the Diligwa Exhibit, a living history exhibit depicting a 1710 Cherokee village that allows visitors to watch craft-making demonstrations, enjoy storytelling and experience everyday life in the early 18th century. Next, visit the rendering of a late 19th century Cherokee rural village center exhibit, Adams Corner. Don't miss the Trail of Tears exhibit that delves into the eviction of the Cherokees from their ancestral lands in the 1830s and today's Oklahoma. The center also offers cultural classes that promote traditional Cherokee art, such as pottery and basketry.

3. Gathering of Nations Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gathering of Nations. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Touted as the largest Native American powwow in North America, the annual Gathering of Nations takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico., brings together thousands of indigenous representatives of hundreds of tribes. The festivities of this multi-day event celebrate and promote the cultural heritage of America's indigenous peoples. Highlights include traditional song, dance and drum competitions, featuring more than 3,000 performers representing more than 500 North American tribes. Attendees can also purchase paintings, jewelry and pottery from more than 800 indigenous artisans and enjoy traditional dishes such as fried bread accompanied with honey or the ingredients used to decorate the tacos.

4. Taos Pueblo Taos, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo. Taos, New Mexico

Learn more about ancestral Pueblo life, culture, and history at Taos Pueblo (Pueblo de Taos), which has been continuously inhabited by members of the Taos tribe for more than 1,000 years. Set against a backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Sierra de la Sangre de Cristo), this UNESCO World Heritage Site revolves around the San Geronimo Chapel and two large, multi-story buildings built with a typical village style architecture of mud and straw. Today about 150 people live in Pueblo, and visitors can take guided tours and learn about the culture, history, and people of the village.

5. Heard Museum Phoenix, Arizona

Heard Museum. Phoenix, Arizona

The Heard Museum (Museo Heard) located in Phoenix, Arizona, exhibits ancient objects and contemporary art. In addition, it is dedicated to the preservation of the culture and heritage of the Indians
of the South western United States. Its collection is made up of about 44,000 objects, including Navajo textiles, Zuni jewelry, and contemporary Native American art. Among the most interesting exhibits is a purchase from former US Senator Barry Goldwater of 430 kachina dolls from the Hopi Indians. Take a free guided tour and check the events calendar to attend educational classes or the museum's annual arts expo, the Indian Fair and Market.

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