4 Places To Visit To Complement Native American Studies

Native American studies is a fascinating academic area and an incredibly important aspect of U.S. history. When studying Native American history and culture, it can be helpful and meaningful to visit relevant historic sites. Visiting these sites will add a layer of depth and context to your studies, helping to bring them to life. For your next vacation, consider visiting one of these four places that will complement your Native American studies:

Badlands National Park (Near Rapid City, South Dakota)

This vast national park in South Dakota offers ruggedly beautiful rock formations, great hiking and camping opportunities, and a fascinating glimpse into Native American history. Native Americans have been present in the Badlands for approximately 11,000 years, and the national park contains many sacred sites and artifacts.

This road trip can also easily be combined with a visit to nearby Wounded Knee, the location of a famous massacre of Lakota Indians and the present site of a memorial and museum dedicated to local Native American history and the massacre itself.

Taos Pueblo (Taos, New Mexico)

The Taos Indians, also known as the Red Willow People, have lived in this historic region of New Mexico for around 1000 years. The pueblo is still an active, working Native American town and is also open year-round for visitors and tours. There are also local vendors selling traditional delicacies like fry bread, as well as frequent feast day celebrations that are open to the public.

Mesa Verde National Park (Southwestern Colorado)

Mesa Verde National Park is renowned for its remarkably well-preserved Native American cliff dwellings dating back 700 years. Visitors of all ages can climb up and into the dwellings. The national park also offers an archaeological museum, a collection of Native American relics and artifacts, and a visitor center.  

Cherokee Heritage Center (Tahlequah, Oklahoma)

This heritage center and museum is dedicated to keeping Cherokee history alive. There are both outdoor exhibits (including traditional Cherokee dwellings) and indoor museum galleries. This museum shows what life was like for Cherokee being forced from their homes and made to set up temporary shelter on the infamous Trail of Tears. There are frequent art shows, Cherokee crafts demonstrations, and educational programs at the heritage center.

By visiting any of these four Native American heritage sites, you will enrich and deepen your understanding of Native American studies and your family will have a fun vacation at the same time.