Best Ways To Experience Native American Cultures For Spring Break

  • National American Indian Heritage Month kickoff in Baltimore, Maryland

    10 Best Ways to Experience Native American Cultures For Spring Break

    If you're looking for a unique spring break vacation that will have a lasting impact, as well as entertain and educate your whole family, look no further than this country's own rich history. You can find many events and destinations that celebrate the hundreds of Native American cultures throughout the United States. Here are our favorite 10 worth considering for spring break or your next family trip. 

    Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics

  • The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center holds various dances and demonstrations

    Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque

    Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a gateway to modern Native American life in New Mexico. Art, writing, music and other current endeavors by Native Americans are showcased, along with an overview of the cultures and history. The cafe here serves Native-inspired cuisine, and on the weekends, groups demonstrate different dances and songs from New Mexico's 19 pueblos, and the Navajo and Apache nations. This is an excellent center to ask questions and learn about New Mexico's Native cultures before visiting them.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The Taos Pueblo is one of the longest continuously inhabited areas

    Taos Pueblo, N.M.

    Families live at Taos Pueblo much as their ancestors have for centuries: with no running water or electricity, to continue and preserve their heritage. Taos Pueblo is believed to be about 1,000 years old. Along with Acoma Pueblo, also in New Mexico, Taos Pueblo is considered to be one of the longest continuously inhabited communities in the nation. Today, it is a United Nations World Heritage Site that is open for visitors. A mile north of the Taos Plaza, the iconic, stepped structures of the pueblo are generally open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Adult admission is $16.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • See the ancient home of the Acoma people

    Acoma Pueblo, N.M.

    Acoma Pueblo and its Haak'u Museum are unique in that after touring the museum, rich in artifacts and explanations, visitors can ascend the 370-foot mesa outside and see for themselves the centuries-old home of the Acoma people – and understand that Acoma tribal members are carrying on the traditions and culture of their ancestors. Acoma tour guides explain Acoma building techniques and how the tribe has survived atop this defensible mesa high above the desert floor with no ground water. 

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The Gathering of Nations is the largest tribal gathering in the world

    Gathering of Nations, Albuquerque

    The annual Gathering of Nations, held every April (this year April 23-25), brings indigenous tribes from across North America to Albuquerque for a weekend of dancing and celebration. Hundreds of dancers fill The Pit arena's floor, and dance competitions, demonstrations, food and music fill the weekend. The Gathering of Nations is considered to be the largest gathering of tribes in the world. 

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • See a craft demonstration at the Cherokee Heritage Center

    Cherokee Heritage Center, Park Hill, Okla.

    The Cherokee Heritage Center explores the culture, history and future of the nation's second-largest Native American tribe, in the rolling, wooded hills of northeastern Oklahoma near the tribe's capital in Tahlequah. From teaching about the tragic Trail of Tears that relocated the tribe to Oklahoma, to classes that teach the language and art of the Cherokee, the center works to preserve and perpetuate the culture. Don't miss Diligwa, a living history village that shows typical Cherokee life as it was in the early 1700s.

    Photo courtesy of Cherokee Heritage Center

  • The Balcony House is a popular feature in Mesa Verde

    Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.

    Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado protects thousands of ancestral Puebloan ruins, mostly built between A.D. 600 and 1300 by ancestors of today's southwest Pueblo tribes. It was the United State’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site, and was given park status in 1906.  Make sure you visit Cliff Palace, where you can see how the communities were built into canyon walls for defense.  

    Photo courtesy of Mesa Verde National Park

  • Warriors and friends enjoy the Bear Dance during an evening program with fire and a full moon

    Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, N.C.

    Located in the traditional Cherokee homeland before the people were forcibly moved to Oklahoma via the 1,200-mile-long Trail of Tears in the 1830s, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian examines the history and culture of the Cherokee Nation. The museum delves into the tribe's paleolithic origins and shares today's rich legacy of art, language and culture.

    Photo courtesy of Barbara Duncan/The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

  • The Heard Museum in Phoenix showcases a great collection of historic and modern cultural contributions

    Heard Museum, Phoenix

    The Heard Museum in Phoenix is one of the nation's premiere museums showcasing the extensive cultures of Native American tribes, including the Pueblo and Plains tribes and Navajo and Apache nations. Its large historic collections that include pottery, weaving and jewelry are augmented with exhibits examining the modern contributions of members of Southwest tribes, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday, of the Kiowa Nation, and the acclaimed sculptures of the Houser/Haozous family, of the Chiricahua Apache Nation.

    Photo courtesy of Heard Museum

  • Find Native American art at the Santa Fe Indian Market

    Santa Fe Indian Market, Santa Fe

    Santa Fe has long been rich in Native American culture and a mixing and meeting place for all of the diverse cultures drawn to the Land of Enchantment. While in Santa Fe, make sure to visit the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture on Santa Fe's Museum Hill to learn about both New Mexico's Native American history and New Mexico's tribes today.  Post spring break in August, the Santa Fe Indian Market brings the most talented Native American artisans from across North America to Santa Fe's Plaza for a weekend of art, as well as a celebration of the many cultures that comprise Native American and First Persons communities. Collectors come from around the world to purchase some of the best examples of Native American art. 

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The American Indian Film Festival showcases the best work by Native American film makers every November

    American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco

    Film has become a medium of choice through which many Native American artists examine and share their cultures and modern experiences, and their impressive endeavors are celebrated annually during the American Indian Film Festival in November at San Francisco's American Indian Film Institute. Opened in 1975, the institute's mission is to teach and provide equipment and opportunities for Native American filmmakers to share their stories through film and video with both Native American communities and the greater world.

    Photo courtesy of American Indian Film Festival