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10 of the Best Native American Museums in the United States

10 of the Best Native American Museums in the United States

Posted By PowWows.com July 9th, 2019 Last Updated on: July 3rd, 2021

Whether you live in the west coast, the east coast, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of opportunities to experience and appreciate Native American history and culture, both past and present, through Native American museums, sprinkled throughout the U.S.

Sadly, many of these cultural centers and museums are not usually thought of as famous local or national sites to visit. However, with this list, we hope to bring some much-deserved awareness to these ten Native American museums.

Photo courtesy of Xiquinho Silva https://www.flickr.com/photos/xiquinho/27232152372/

These museums feature incredible displays of artifacts and historical objects, but they also showcase the living Native American culture through events, seminars, Pow Wows, and more.



So, next time you want to discover more about the indigenous peoples of North America, take a trip to one of these museums celebrating Native American history and culture!

Top Native American History Museums 


1. Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM

This museum is all about celebrating and sharing the “arts and cultures of the Southwest.” While it is a smaller museum than some others on our list, it holds an impressive collection of beautiful pieces and a rich cultural tradition. The museum, a historical site in its own right is named for the fashionista, Millicent Rogers (1902-1953), whose passion for North American cultural heritage left a lasting legacy. This museum is home to Roger’s own beautiful collection of Native American turquoise jewelry and her own creations, as well as many Native American and Hispanic arts, ranging from prehistoric to contemporary.

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2. Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA

This impressive center of Western Pennsylvanian history includes several museums, from the main Heinz History Center to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. However, its spot in this list of Native American peoples museums is due to its stunning Fort Pitt Museum, which is home to historic galleries, living history reenactments, and exhibitions exploring the French and Indian War. Within its galleries and exhibitions, the relationship between Native Americans and the French and English who all competed for the land are explored. This center is also affiliated with the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, which is an unbelievable archeological treasure: the oldest known site of human habitation in North America used continuously by the Native Americans until the 18th century.

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3. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki, Clewiston, FL

This museum, located on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, hosts about 200,000 different artifacts and archival items, expressing the living history and culture of the Seminole peoples. Named in the Seminole language “a place to learn and remember,” Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki not only has collections of patchwork clothing, baskets, dolls, and other traditionally-created pieces of cultural significance from the 20th century, but is also home to a large collection of historic archives, conservation work, and oral history.

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4. Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, Salamanca, NY

This Native American cultural center features interactive exhibits, programs, and collections that allow patrons to explore the daily life and struggles of Native American peoples from prehistory to today, through changing exhibits and permanent art collections, featuring artwork in traditional mediums, such as beadwork, antler carvings, and cornhusk pieces. They also host an annual traditional dance competition as part of their Winter Social Pow Wow.



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5. Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix is home to Heard Museum, a Native American Indian museum featuring art and objects that show the daily lives of Native peoples in North America with a focus on tribes and peoples from the Southwest. Their exhibitions include textiles, ceramics, weaving, jewelry, clothing, and more, from prehistoric to modern. They also feature contemporary artwork by Native American artists. Their award-winning changing exhibits range from mural artwork, stonework, and other featured collections to historical time periods, persons, and influential topics. Each year, Head Museum hosts the World Hoop Dance Championships.

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6. Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner, NH

With a powerful backstory of multiculturalism and diversity, this museum has a unique heritage of Native American land reclamation. Located in the beautiful woods of New Hampshire, this museum features tours through the Medicine Woods that showcase the natural flora that Native Americans historically used for food, medicine, and more. With interactive and educational exhibits, this museum offers guided tours of their facility that help you get the most out of its many exhibits, outdoor features, and programs. They organize lectures, crafts, workshops, and more. It is also home to the Annual Harvest Moon and NatureFest, a fun day of cultural food, exhibits, and storytelling, appreciating a traditional harvest celebration.

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7. The Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, IN

This museum displays the rich cultural diversity of North American peoples through an expansive collection of storytelling, artistic expression, and artifacts. One of the only Midwestern museums to present the histories of both Native America and the American West, The Eiteljorg is located in Indianapolis and showcases many dynamic collections of art, history, and culture. From sculptures and paintings to weaving and pottery, this museum of historical and contemporary art is something you won’t want to miss. The museum also organizes many educational and cultural programs and festivals, such as the summer Indian Market & Festival, throughout the year.

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8. Six Nations Indian Museum, Onchiota, NY

This family-owned museum features artifacts, arts, and educational exhibits from the perspective of North American indigenous peoples. With a focus on Haudenosaunee culture, this unique museum represents the tribes of the Six Iroquois Nations Confederacy: Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Cayugas, and Tuscaroras. Not only are the exhibits beautiful representations of Native American culture, but even the museum building itself is decorated with Haudenosaunee symbols and motifs.

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9. The Journey Museum and Learning Center, Rapid City, SD

This immersive museum houses five major prehistoric and historic collections of art, artifacts, and exhibits to shed light on history from the Black Hills and Native American culture. Art collections and galleries feature the unique telling of the history of the Western Great Plains through the eyes of the Lakota people, as well as the historic pioneers who settled there and the contemporary scientists who study the archeological and natural history of the location. They run several educational programs and have many dynamic and interactive displays and outdoor exhibits.

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10. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC

No “Native American museums near me” list would be complete without a mention of the most famous museum of all: the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. It has the honor of being the first national museum of Native American heritage and culture and its over 800,000 items represent more than 1,200 indigenous cultures, from items and educational materials on religion, traditions, and contemporary identity to ancient artifacts and modern fine art. There is also a sister museum located in New York, NY. They host several annual celebrations and festivals that highlight the rich traditions of heritage of indigenous peoples, including a six-day celebration called the Kaypi Perú Festival, a summer Native Art Market, and an annual Hawaiian cultural celebration.

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There are over a hundred Native American museums throughout the country – too many to list them all here! We strongly encourage you to visit the ones on this list or to do your own research and find Native American museums near you. Exploring these important places allows you to appreciate some of the nation’s hidden gems of cultural and historical significance.

Featured Image From Neta Lind


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Running Doe

Wado I love all of them shows the true history of our native wado for sharing

Karen MAINS

The Heritage Center at the Toppenish Washington Yakama Reservation is a wonderful museum of the Yakima Nation which seems to be overlooked , Also Fort Okanogan Indian and Pioneer Museum tells you of the history of the Colville Indian Nation, where the Okanogan and Columbia River meets near Bridgeport and Brewster Washington towns. Nespelem is where the agency headquarter are located also it it the area burning right now due to lightening strikes, they have lost homes, ranches and many horses and cattle, it is still burning.

Rhonda Scott

“End of the Trail” museum at the Tree’s of Mystery in Klamath, California. 95548
I am told it is the largest private collection on display in the U.S., representing over 300 U.S. tribes.

Guy D

We were very impressed with the museum at Crazyhorse, South Dakota

Vance

The Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson Missouri is incredible. It is a Native American Museum with things from all over the Americas so the name is a bit misleading. No one will be disappointed with the amazing diversity of artifacts and displays.

Tim

The Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park in Fredonia, AZ houses one of the best collections of Anasazi and older artifacts. Very small but well worth the time.

BOBBY LONEWOLF GENTRY

untill today I knew of only one Native museum. It is in the east central part of Tennessee, in Severville. It doubles as a Museum and Native merchandise outlet store. I would love to get to visit the others before I leave here on my final journey. I am 69 years old and found out about my Native ancestry when I was 50. Indiana changed my birth certificate to read blank under Race. And changed my “Lonewolf” middle name to just “L”, so I could be adopted by a white couple who were my Foster parents, at the time. At the time Indiana would not let a mixed blood child br adopted by whites. So in order to do so they changed my paperwork. I am 1/2 Cheyenne and 1/2 Irish, and proud to be both.

Elisse

This is a GREAT list! Keeping and sharing this!

Amy B

Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site. On the grounds of an original 17th-century Seneca Town. Victor, NY, suburb of Rochester.

Bradley A Greenwood

Disappointed to not see Woolaroc on the list. 🙁

Nelson Villanueva

It would be educational if there was a museum about the Taino Native Americans from the Caribbean .

Ethel Flores

San Francisco Bay Area?

Shell Scott

I agree. The most phenomenal museum I have ever been in by far. If your in the area also visit the Gilcrease museum in Tulsa.

annette price

Visit the Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribal Center and Museum in Henrico County Virginia. The artifacts are up to 15,000 years old from their local archaeological dig.

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