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Discover Native American History and Culture at One of these Top Indigenous Museums

by Teresa Bitler

Feb 28, 2024

© TLOVENTURES | DREAMSTIME.COM

February 2024

Long before Europeans arrived on this continent, Native Americans spent centuries caring for the land and enjoying traditions still practiced today. You can celebrate their stories through artifacts, artwork and more while visiting museums dedicated to their heritage.

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., is a good place to start. It gives an overview of all Native American tribes in the United States today and displays their artwork. Meanwhile, its sister museum in New York City focuses on the Native nations that once lived in that region.

New York also has two museums of note devoted to the Iroquois people. In Salamanca, Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center highlights the history of the Seneca Iroquois Nation, while the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota contains artifacts from the entire Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Heading south, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Florida showcases the heritage of the Seminole people. Oklahoma also boasts a Seminole museum, Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka, as well as Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center in Lawton, Osage Nation Museum in Pawhuska, Choctaw Cultural Center in Calera and Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee.

For a broader perspective, go to The First Americans Museum. It tells the collective story of Oklahoma’s 39 tribes, plus those who had a historical relationship to the area and those once assigned to the land where the museum resides. The museum also hosts solstice celebrations, the Potato Dancing World Championship and special events like a tipi-raising contest.

At Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Santa Fe, exhibits showcase the culture of New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos. The museum also features a collection of more than 20 murals by Puebloan artists, an Indigenous restaurant and Native American dances every weekend year-round.

PHOTO: © SAM ANTONIO | DREAMSTIME.COM

Since 1929 Heard Museum in Phoenix has housed one of the nation’s preeminent collections of Native American artifacts and artwork, including 1,200 katsina dolls donated by the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater and Fred Harvey Co. It holds cultural performances throughout the year, an annual Indian Fair & Market and the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, too.

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