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National American Indian Heritage Month

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. Look to archeology in the National Parks to learn about the history and heritage of American Indians from ancient to modern times. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Over 10,000 years ago, America's earliest immigrants crossed the Bering Land Bridge. Artifacts such as wooden bowls, projectile points, and cutting implements provide evidence for some of these earliest Americans' activities. Check out the park's online collections by doing a word search for "archeology" to see for yourself evidence of their everyday lives. Learn more about the earliest Americans through an online exhibit, a theme study, and publications.

Archeology tells us about the interaction between American Indians and European explorers. From 1604-1607, Samuel de Champlain and an expedition of French explorers sailed along the northeastern coast of North America. Archeologists have examined sites along their path for evidence of contact with American Indians. You, too, can follow their path. Or follow the trail of Lewis and Clark as they met American Indians in the American West in the early nineteenth century. As with Champlain's explorations, archeologists used the explorers' journals to find sites. Visit the National Historical Trail; learn about archeology at Fort Clatsop, where they overwintered in 1805/06; or see archeological artifacts at the Museum of Western Expansion.

You can visit sites of American Indian heritage across the United States. Visit the ancient ruins of the Southwest. See the mounds and so much more in Ohio. Many sites still hold a special place in American Indian spiritual life. You can also explore rock imagery nationwide, or explore the role of rock images in the lives of the Coso Indians in California.

During your celebration of American Indian Month, you'll find that archeology is a way to celebrate and learn more about cultural traditions, lifeways, material culture, and beliefs.

  • (illustration) Illustration of an early American Indian.
  • (NPS photo) Living historian Amy Mossett portrays Sacagawea on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.
  • (NPS Photo) Shrum Mound  a conical mound in Ohio constructed by the Adena Culture peoples.

TSM/MJB