Shiprock Gallery (above)  is one of many top places to explore in Indian Country, Dana Joseph says.

Shiprock Gallery (above) is one of many top places to explore in Indian Country, Dana Joseph says.

CNN Contributor Explores the Best Places to Experience Native Culture

CNN contributor Dana Joseph says that American Indian culture is “alive and thriving.”

“Think Native American culture has been co-opted by casinos, twisted by inaccurate films, relegated to the rez or buried with arrowheads? No chance,” Joseph writes on

RELATED 9 Great Places to Experience American and Native Culture

While Joseph touches on somewhat obvious locations in Indian Country – Oklahoma, Phoenix, Santa Fe, and places like the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. – he does mention some of the biggest events, such as the Gathering of Nations, the Indian Fair and Market and activities that people outside of Indian Country might not know about.

The first item on Joseph’s list, traveling from East to West, was New York City.

The George Gustav Heye Center is part of the National Museum of the American Indian. “The Heye Center began as the personal collection of George Gustav Heye, a wealthy investment banker who collected nearly a million items that became the largest collection of American Indian items in the world,” NMAI director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) told CNN.

New York has the largest indigenous population in the United States, but there are a few great spots for travelers to check out after they’ve reviewed some of the exhibits at the museum. A very hip jazz lounge, and restaurant called Analogue, for example, in the West Village is owned by Jesse Wilson, of the Colville Nation, and his business partner Jared Gordon.

Moving to the opposite coast, Joseph boasts about the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.“It’s hard to imagine from modern American Indian film subjects and the festival’s Bay Area setting that the lands south of the Golden Gate Bridge were once home to the Ohlone, or Costanoan, tribe, and north of the bridge, especially in what’s now Marin County, to the Miwok tribe. For a small taste of what the region was like when American Indians inhabited it centuries before high-tech modernity, you can visit the Marin Museum of the American Indian in Novato’s Miwok Park.”

The 39th annual American Indian Film Festival takes place November 1-9, 2014.

Oklahoma has the second highest percentage of Native Americans in the country, so it’s a given that dozens of places were highlighted by CNN, including the Cherokee Heritage Center, the Tahlequah Original Historic Townsite District, the John Hair Museum and Cultural Center and the Cherokee Supreme Court Museum.

Two worthwhile events are also coming to Oklahoma City and Shawnee, Oklahoma, respectively, in June 2014: the Red Earth Festival and Jim Thorpe Native American Games.

Oddly enough Joseph, who is the editorial director of Cowboys & Indians magazine, did not mention any events in Dallas, where he is based. The Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest was the final destination that was listed.

“As much as it might now be about coffee and grunge culture, the Pacific Northwest is also formline art, totem pole, longhouse and dugout canoe country. Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia are all part of the Salish Sea. You could do all sorts of things in the region to get a feel for the richness of its tribal past.”

Among some other locations Joseph mentioned in the Pacific Northwest were the Suquamish Museum and Cultural Center, Blake Island’s Tillicum Village, and in Vancouver, Canada, there’s Stanley Park and the Klahowya Aboriginal Village.

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