Best Native American Experience (2014)


The American Southwest is where to head for a top-notch Native American experience, according to our readers.  After four weeks of voting, the amazing Acoma Pueblo - sited atop a mesa west of Albuquerque, New Mexico - took top honors in our 10Best Readers' Choice contest for 'Best Native American Experience.'

  • Acoma Pueblo

    Acoma Pueblo
    Acoma, N.M.

    Perched atop a mesa 367 feet above the New Mexico desert is Acoma Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. The Acoma tribe has lived in the pueblo since 1150 AD, and today, visitors can tour "Sky City" to take in the sweeping views, see the historic structures and see firsthand centuries-old pottery techniques still being used today.
    Photo courtesy of NRCS NM

  • Taos Pueblo

    Taos Pueblo
    Taos, N.M.

    Taos Pueblo is a real-life adobe settlement that offers a look into the culture of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. This interesting pueblo, which has existed for nearly 1000 years, holds the honor as the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.
    Photo courtesy of Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock

  • Cherokee Heritage Center- Park Hill, Okla.

    Cherokee Heritage Center- Park Hill, Okla.

    Located in the heart of Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma's Ozark Mountains, the Cherokee Heritage Center serves as the epicenter for the tribe's history and culture. Noteworthy attractions include an exhibit on the Trail of Tears, a 1710 Cherokee Village, the Cherokee National Museum and even a research center where visitors can trace their Native lineage.
    Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department

  • Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Verde National Park shelters thousands of archeological sites, offering visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the area in the late 1200s A.D. Visitors can take a ranger-guided tour through Cliff Palace, presumably the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
    Photo courtesy of daveynin

  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian

    Museum of the Cherokee Indian
    Cherokee, N.C.

    The Museum of the Cherokee, located in mountainous Western North Carolina, includes interactive video and fascinating exhibits that tell of the rich history and culture of the Cherokee Nation.  The museum's downtown setting also often has traditionally dressed American Indians performing tribal dances for visitors.
    Photo courtesy of Smart Destinations

  • Santa Fe Indian Market

    Santa Fe Indian Market
    Santa Fe

    The annual Santa Fe Indian Market gives visitors the opportunity to experience Native American culture through film, fashion, music and literature. Visitors can also browse through a wide array of authentic Indian art, ranging from turquoise jewelry to carvings, baskets and pottery.
    Photo courtesy of Larry Lamsa

  • Heard Museum

    Heard Museum

    The Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art houses both artifacts and contemporary art of various Native American groups, in particular those with roots in the Southwest. A collection with tens of thousands of items as well as numerous events and festivals throughout the year keep visitors coming back for more.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix

  • Gathering of Nations PowWow

    Gathering of Nations PowWow

    The Gathering of Nations PowWow is the largest powwow in the United States. This annual summer event attracts up to 150,000 visitors, who converge on Albuquerque each July to enjoy live music and entertainment, see the Miss Indian World pageant, shop at the Indian Trader's Market and discover Native American culture.  
    Photo courtesy of Gathering of Nations-Derek Mathews

  • American Indian Film Festival

    American Indian Film Festival
    San Francisco

    This annual film festival, held in San Francisco, features the best of Native American cinema. The festival includes a handful of screenings, so visitors can select from a variety of films that depict different facets of the Native American experience. 
    Photo courtesy of Don Barros Photography

  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

    Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

    The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center serves as an information hub for all things related to New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo Indian tribes. The center showcases the tribes' culture and history, with native dance demonstrations, cultural events and a museum with both permanent collections and changing exhibits.
    Photo courtesy of Travis Suazo

New Mexico favored quite heavily overall.  2nd place went to the Taos Pueblo, a 1,000-year-old community which is still inhabited and open to the public.  Santa Fe's popular Indian Market, held each August, took 6th place with voters, while the annual Gathering of Nations Powwow and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, both in Albuquerque, finished in 8th and 10th respectively.   

The Cherokee tribe also resonates loudly with our readers.   Oklahoma's Cherokee Heritage Center took 3rd place in the contest, while the Museum of the Cherokee Indian landed in 5th.    

The prestigious Heard Museum in Phoenix has taken 7th.   Mesa Verde, near the Four Corners area, and the American Indian Film Festival rounded out the winners list.   Congratulations to all the victors.   

The Full list of winners in the 'Best Native American Experience' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:

  1. Acoma Pueblo - Acoma, N.M.
  2. Taos Pueblo - Taos, N.M.
  3. Cherokee Heritage Center- Park Hill, Okla.
  4. Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
  5. Museum of the Cherokee Indian - Cherokee, N.C.
  6. Santa Fe Indian Market - Santa Fe
  7. Heard Museum - Phoenix
  8. Gathering of Nations PowWow - Albuquerque
  9. American Indian Film Festival - San Francisco
  10. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - Albuquerque
License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo



AlertThe Experts

Libby McMillan

Libby McMillan

Libby McMillan

Lydia Schrandt

Lydia Schrandt

Lydia Schrandt

Travis Seward

Travis Seward

Travis Seward