Learn about authentic Native American culture and history

BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) – From Sitting Bull to Sakakawea, North Dakota is rich in Native American history and with approximately 30,000 enrolled tribal members sharing geography with North Dakota, there are many opportunities to explore and discover Native American culture.

For an authentic experience of Native American culture, you can attend an upcoming powwow, as well as visit one of the many Native American museums and cultural centers in the state.

Here are some of the best ways to experience Native American culture in North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Tourism Division:

Attend a powwow

The Algonquin word “pau wau” was the Native American word that some early Europeans associated with dancing. The word originally meant “medicine man”, but came to be accepted by Europeans to refer to dancing and gatherings, later spelled “pow-wow”.

Visitors to current powwows will experience a multi-day festival centered around performances of traditional song and dance, traditional food, and arts and crafts vendors. A list of powwows held by the various tribal nations can be found here.

Visit historic sites and museums

The North Dakota State Heritage Center and Museum in Bismarck offers an interactive and informative overview of Native American history and culture. A display to note is the Native American Hall of Honor, a gallery of prominent North Dakota Native Americans and a diorama of Double Ditch Indian Village.

You can then head north of the city to see the remains of Double Ditch Indian Village located on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, along with several other Native American villages.

Other historic villages that offer an authentic look at Native American life include Chief Looking’s Village, Huff Indian Village and Sitting Bull Visitor Center.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site lived in Sakakawea before joining Lewis and Clark.

Learn about the five tribal nations

Five Sovereign First Nations share geography with North Dakota and have deep ties to the plains.

North Dakota’s first community, Pembina, was built by the Chippewa, descendants of the Chippewas and French Canadians, all of whom are part of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center preserves the culture of the region and the Turtle Mountain Scenic Drive offers a route through the beautiful landscape.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation exploit the 4 Bears Casino and Lodgeas well as a new MHA Interpretation Center which houses a collection of artifacts and art, as well as mud huts and tepees.

All Standing Rock Native American National Scenic Drive is within the limits of Standing Rock Sioux Tribeis the earth. Walk all or part of the 350-mile route.

The Spirit Lake Nation includes several different nations of Lakota/Dakota people, many of whom live on the south shore of Devils Lake near Fort Totten. The Fort Totten State Historic Site offers visitors an insight into the history of the region and the tribe.

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe is centered around the Lake Traverse Tribal Lands that stretch across the border to South Dakota. The tribe operates the Dakota Winds Golf Course and the Dakota Magic Casinoboth from the North Dakota side of tribal land.


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