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5 places in the US where you can learn about Native American culture

Curious about Native American culture? Here’s a checklist of some of the best places to view exhibits, visit living history museums, attend events, explore ancient sites and talk with Native Americans.

art and culture Updated: May 26, 2018 16:56 IST
Asian News International
Children are taught to embrace their culture at the Gathering of Nations Powwow.
Children are taught to embrace their culture at the Gathering of Nations Powwow. (Facebook)

Across the United States, an effort is being made to preserve and share the stories and tragic history of Native Americans in North America. Indigenous cultures in the continent have thrived for thousands of years, and visitors have the opportunity to learn about them by viewing exhibits, visiting living history museums, attending events, exploring ancient sites and talking with Native Americans.

Here are some of the best places and events in the United States where you can experience Native American culture:

* Cherokee Heritage Center, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

In the foothills of Oklahoma’s Ozark Mountains lies the 18-hectare Cherokee Heritage Center, dedicated to preserving the culture and artifacts of the Cherokee tribe. Walk through Diligwa, a living history exhibit that depicts a 1710 Cherokee village and allows visitors to experience craft-making demonstrations, storytelling and daily life of the early 18th century. Next, visit the centre’s representation of a late 19th-century rural Cherokee village, Adams Corner. Don’t miss the Trail of Tears exhibit, which delves into the forced removal of Cherokees from their ancestral lands in the 1830s to what is now present-day Oklahoma. The centre also offers cultural classes that promote traditional Cherokee arts, such as pottery and basketry, and holds annual art shows featuring traditional and contemporary Cherokee works.

* United Tribes International Powwow, Bismarck, North Dakota

Hundreds of Native Americans from more than 70 tribes from all over the US gather for the United Tribes International Powwow in the Lone Star Arena at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota. For nearly 50 years, the monumental three-day event has brought thousands of visitors to the Great Plains to experience unique cultures of indigenous communities.

The US was originally populated by native tribes that claimed their own territories and developed cultures and traditions. Historically, tribes set aside differences to join in a “powwow” or gathering, where they celebrated, competed and found common ground. The International Powwow continues this custom every September, highlighting native traditions in dancing, drumming, singing, and arts and crafts from area tribes such as the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Standing Rock Dakota-Lakota, Yavapai-Apache Nation and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.

* Blackfeet Heritage Center, Browning , Montana

In the open land on the Indian reservation, as you walk into the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village, you get a warm welcome. The gallery exhibits pieces such as crafts and drums that are made out of elk and bison hide, which can also be purchased as gifts. In Blackfeet, you can enjoy cultural history tours to historical sites around the reservation. At night, you can enjoy traditional Blackfeet Indian cuisine and sleep in a tipi. Here you can experience Native American life, including the rich culture, history and customs.

Out of all the stories shared here, one thing in particular will stay in your mind deeply. It was about how the native Americans respected the animals — their healing power, their instinct and prediction of things. The Native Americans would name themselves after animal names out of sheer reverence.

The annual “Gathering of Nations” in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attracts thousands of indigenous people representing hundreds of tribes. (Shutterstock)

* Gathering of Nations, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attracts thousands of indigenous people representing hundreds of tribes. The multi-day event’s festivities celebrate and promote Native American cultural heritage. Highlights include traditional song, dance and drumming competitions, which feature over 3,000 performers representing more than 500 North American tribes. Attendees can also buy paintings, jewellery and pottery from more than 800 Native American artisans, and eat traditional foods like fry bread, deep-fried quick bread served with honey or taco toppings.

* Hidden Cave and Grimes point, Nevada

If you’re interested in petroglyphs (creating images by carving on rocks), be sure to swing by Grimes Point Prehistoric Rock Art Site, located off Highway 50, Nevada. This fascinating historic site was first visited by Native Americans a mindboggling 8,000 years ago or more. Archaeologists studying Grimes Point were able to uncover remnants of these prehistoric people, including bits of bone and shell, a stone scraper tool, bits of tule and matting and, of course, many petroglyphs scrawled across boulders in the area.

While touring Grimes Point Prehistoric Rock Art Site, visitors can get a first-rate view of these captivating samples along a short, self-guided interpretive trail. Brochures are provided at the site, which includes information about the trailheads and grounds in general.

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