November is Native American Heritage Month, a month dedicated to honoring the more than 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Pay respect to the enduring culture, rich traditions, and valued contributions of the country’s indigenous peoples by planning a visit to one of these sites.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in Arizona
An iconic southwestern landscape featured in dozens of famous movies and TV shows, Monument Valley on the border of Utah and Arizona is also a sacred place to Navajo Nation, who own and operate the park today. Set off on a looping, 17-mile road to admire the towering sandstone buttes that soar up to 1,000 feet into the air or embark on a Navajo-guided tour in a Jeep to delve more into the area’s history and see monuments closed to the general public, like Ear of the Wind. In the summer, swing by the visitor center to sample Navajo cuisine at the Haskenneini Restaurant.
Ninety minutes southwest, visit the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum for a fascinating deep dive on the Navajo Code Talkers who relayed impossible-to-crack coded messages during World War II.
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
One of the 17 museums that makes up the Smithsonian Institution in the nation’s capital, the National Museum of the American Indian offers the country’s most comprehensive collection of Native American artifacts from across North America, with more than 1250,000 photos on display alongside 800,000 artifacts.
When the museum—which was designed to look like a natural, weathered rock—opened in 2004, more than 20,000 American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians showed up to help dedicate it, marking the largest gathering of indigenous people in the capital’s history.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio
About 45 miles south of Columbus, Ohio, discover earthworks and burial mounds created by the indigenous Hopewell people, who lived between 200 BC and 500 AD. These ceremonial landscapes were used for “feasts, funerals, rituals, and rites of passage,” according to the National Park Service website. Today, visitors can walk among the grassy-covered mounds and hear from park rangers who help interpret this unique history.
The Heard Museum in Arizona
With a focus on the tribes of the Southwest, the Phoenix-area Heard Museum celebrates indigenous arts and culture, with a focus on pottery, rugs, Hopi kachinas (intricate spirit dolls), and Navajo jewelry. The museum itself is “dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art,” and does so through collaborations with contemporary Native American artists and exhibits told through a first-person perspective of indigenous peoples.