In celebration of Indian Heritage Month, see photos from traditions hundreds of years old and remember the Trail of Tears.
This towering statue in Charlottesville, VA, commemorates the 1803-1806 journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dedicated in 1919, the statue also pays homage to Shoshone Indian Sacagawea, who acted as interpreter and guide to the explorers, traveling thousands of miles alongside them from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean.
Silhouette of an Oglala Lakota member during a 3-day powwow on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. A gathering of North America’s Native people, powwows began hundreds of years ago, showcasing drumming, dancing and storytelling.
In 1830, the Indian Removal Act forced thousands of Native Americans from their homes in the Southeast. The route, later known as the Trail of Tears, led to the deaths of roughly 4,000 Cherokee people from exposure, disease and starvation. Today, about 2,200 miles of the route are preserved, marking the journey through portions of 9 states.
Little Bighorn in Montana was the site a 2-day battle in which Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people, led by several war leaders, including Crazy Horse, saw decisive victory against US infantry forces led by George Armstrong Custer -- his final battle here would come to be known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”
Located in Hot Springs County, WY, Legend Rock features nearly 300 individual petroglyphs spread across the face of red-brown sandstone. The petroglyphs, showcasing otherworldly spirit figures, feature some of the oldest examples of rock art in the world, stretching as far back as 3,000 years.
Carved from trees, towering structures like this were the handiwork of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast. Very early European explorers thought totem poles were objects of worship, but later explorers noted they seemed only to illustrate stories. Here’s a view of the Kwakwaka'wakw pole at Thunderbird Park in Victoria, British Columbia.
More than 135 years after his death, Crazy Horse ranks as one of the most notable Native American tribal leaders. Tucked in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the memorial to the famous Lakota warrior is more than 60 years in the making. Current projections call for the memorial's completion by 2020.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is home to the densest and most remarkable concentration of pueblos in the Southwest. Within the park, Pueblo Bonito is the largest. The ancestral Pueblo people constructed the structure between 850 A.D. and 1150 A.D. This “Great House” was the center of the Chacoan world.
Another great place to explore the lives of ancestral Pueblo people is Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park -- it’s home to some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world. Spanning more than 81 square miles, the site encompasses more than 4,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings.
Across the Mississippi River, east of St. Louis, discover an ancient Native American city. Spanning 2,200 acres, the Cahokia Mounds preserve a settlement that thrived more than 500 years before Europeans ever set foot in the New World. In fact, Cahokia was the largest and most influential urban settlement in the Mississippian culture, thriving between 600-1400 A.D.
Stand on the exact spot where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. This amazing quadripoint, celebrated in granite and brass, is overseen by the Navajo Nation. As you journey to the site, along US Highway 160, make sure you bring plenty of comforts for the road. The area is remote, with no running water, electricity or telephones.
Inside this small sandstone cave in Santa Barbara, CA, is an amazing sight: ancient rock art attributed to the Chumash people – a Native American people who’ve inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California for a millennia.
Just across the street from the governor’s mansion, the Oklahoma History Center tells the story of prehistoric Native American tribes. The focal point is the ONEOK Gallery: Located on the north end of the museum’s first floor, the gallery showcases the histories of 39 American Indian tribes through art, artifacts, tribal music and more.
Explore the story of 1,000 Native American tribes, spanning 10,000 years, at the National Museum of the American Indian. Since it opened on DC’s National Mall in 2004, the museum has preserved the literature, history, languages and arts of America’s earliest peoples through a collection of more than 800,000 objects and a photographic archive of 125,000 images.
As far back as 3,800 years, the Cherokee people have called western North Carolina home. Today, you can explore that world at the Cherokee Indian Reservation, which includes a recreated village showcasing what life was like for the Cherokee 250 years ago. The reservation is also home to Mingo Falls -- a 120-foot-tall waterfall, one of the tallest in the southern Appalachians.
Sixty miles west of Albuquerque, this Native American pueblo has been inhabited continuously for over 800 years -- making it one of the oldest communities of its kind in the US. Acoma Pueblo spans 3 villages, home to nearly 5,000 people. The grounds also include this Spanish mission church, founded in 1629.
The talents of Native American playwrights take center stage at The Autry National Center of the American West. The Los Angeles intercultural center and museum is home to Native Voices, a theatre company dedicated to producing new works such as <i>Kino and Teresa,</i>the story of star-crossed lovers in late-17th century Santa Fe by longtime Angelino James Lujan.