Here are four parks and monuments honoring Indigenous cultures around the U.S.Less
At least 27 tribes have cultural association with the world’s first national park, some dating back more than 11,000 years. To acknowledge past offenses and elevate Indigenous voices, the Yellowstone Tribal Heritage Center opened in 2022, and the pilot program continues in 2023. The center gives visitors the opportunity to engage directly with Indigenous people. Highlights include Native American presentations on topics from traditional beadwork and dance to contemporary art and poetry.
The dramatic sandstone cliffs of Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay) lie within the Navajo Nation, and around 40 families live, farm, and raise livestock within the canyons. Native Americans have lived here for nearly 5,000 years, which makes it the longest uninterrupted home on the Colorado Plateau. Entrance to the park is free, and the visitor center showcases the area’s culture and history, including a traditional Diné hogan and sometimes a Navajo silversmith demonstration.
The Southern Appalachian mountains, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, were Cherokee lands until 1938, when almost 14,000 Cherokees were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. Today the Tribe’s 11,000 members live mostly on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, or Qualla Boundary, along the south side of the park. The reservation welcomes visitors, and the national park gateway town of Cherokee, North Carolina, is flush with learning experiences and amenities.
Since its inception, San Juan Island National Historic Park‘s focus has been on the remnants of U.S. and British camps. But in 2022, the park opened the new American Camp Visitor Center to acknowledge the First Peoples who were displaced by those foreign powers. Co-created with the NPS and numerous Coast Salish Tribes, the center shares the story of Indigenous life on the island, which was an important trade and cultural center.