11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

Here are 11 places around the Valley of the Sun to learn all about the natives who are still a big part of what makes Arizona so rich in culture.

Phoenix is ​​located within Native lands, like the rest of the United States. However, for the most part, the city chooses to not only acknowledge this fact but also celebrate it.

Within our state borders, we have the Navajo Nation and many reservations. So much so that between native and government lands, only 18% of Arizona can be privately owned! Now, back to Phoenix.

The city may seem like any other metropolitan area filled with financial promise, convenient accommodations and opportunities. While all of this is definitely true for our capital (just look at how many transplants there are!), Phoenix is ​​also a center of history and culture. To learn more about Arizona’s rich indigenous history, here are eight places in Phoenix (plus three day-trip-worthy destinations) to explore Native culture.

Please note that each location references Native Americans with different terminology; The terminology used in each description will match that of the place.

Top 8 Places to Learn About Native American/Indigenous History in and around Phoenix

1. Museum heard

The Heard Museum is known beyond the borders of Arizona as a great place to learn about Native American culture. Exhibits here contain American Indian art, from traditional to contemporary. See paintings, drawings, fashion, jewelry, ceramics, textiles, sculptures and more. Once you’ve perused, stop at the cafe for a bite to eat, then browse the gift shop for an authentic souvenir.

Entry fee: $9/youth, $22.50/adult (or free with a Cultural Pass)

11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

Photo courtesy of Yassie via CC BY-SA 3.0.

2. Sedav Va’aki Museum

Formerly Museo Pueblo Grande, the S’edav Va’aki Museum seeks “to be recognized as the gateway to the cultural history of the Phoenix area.” Established by the city of Phoenix, this museum focuses on educational programs that highlight the preservation and presentation of cultural materials.

Please note that there is a scheduled closure on July 15 for renovations, but virtual programs are available on the website until the projected reopening in the fall. City-maintained museums like this one are a great place to start, as they have access to even more resources than many private museums.

Entry fee: $6 (or free with a Cultural Pass)

3. The house of fried bread

Enjoying food from another culture is a fun and delicious way to learn about that culture. Open Monday through Saturday, this award-winning restaurant is the best way to try Native American food, specifically fry bread. Like fried pita bread, fried bread can be eaten sweet or savory and is a traditional staple of native culture.

The menu includes fun ways to eat fry bread, from tacos to burgers to sweets, and if fry bread isn’t your thing, try one of the many guisados ​​or tamales. Regardless of what you try, your palate will thank you. I’ll be right back now, I have to go eat fried bread before the slime ruins the keyboard.

4. Phoenix Indian Center

Now that the stomach is full, it’s time to talk about the Phoenix Indian Center. It is the oldest nonprofit Native American organization of its kind in the U.S. as a result of Phoenix becoming a major “relocation city.” If you’re not quite sure what that means, this center is a great place to start your journey of learning about the culture and history of how Native people were forced to assimilate into the new American customs or move to designated tribal lands.

The Phoenix Indian Center may be the result of a darker history of colonization, but it exists today to connect tribes, bridge the gap between modernity and tradition, and act as a center that can preserve Native culture (there are even courses in Available languages). and educate non-natives about that culture. Check out one of the various workshops, classes, and webinars to fully understand the culture that makes up the capital of the Grand Canyon State.

5. Hieroglyphic trail

Located in Gold Canyon in the Superstition Mountains, the Hieroglyphic Trail is a moderately easy 1.4 mile hike with a high payout. Pools of water, views, petroglyphs, and the legends of the Superstition Mountains make up the magic of this trail, offering not only a true Arizona hike, but also a true exploration of native history.

The petroglyphs are believed to have been left by the Hohokam people, a civilization that thrived in central Arizona sometime between AD 200 and 1400. The exact meanings of the petroglyphs are open to interpretation, but they are nonetheless important to the archaeological history of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

While it is free to walk this trail, be sure to preserve it for future generations by practicing the “leave no trace” rule; Whatever you pack, make sure you pack it. Also, be sure to carry water while hiking and keep the forecast in mind.

6. Arizona Museum of Natural History

“Native cultures of western North America” is an exhibit at this museum that explores how dozens of different native tribes lived in the western part of our country. There are more than 500 items that piece together this history, all donated by Lou and Evelyn Grubb, who spent their lives curating this once private collection.

This exhibit is an important key to understanding the tensions, favors, lifestyles and practices that existed between different native cultures, a part of history that is often overlooked. It is not surprising that the history of the people is not that different from the modernity of the people.

Entry fee: $9/youth, $16/adult

11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

Photo courtesy of Marine 69-71 via CC BY-SA 4.0.

7. Native Art Market

The Native Art Market has two locations with the same purpose: to provide an environment where Native Americans can sell directly to the public in a mission to create economic empowerment. According to the website, “both locations experience the stories, arts and culture of Arizona’s Native American tribes.”

The indoor space, located in Old Town Scottsdale, is open year-round and includes a fun “sip n’ shop” complete with live performances five days a week. The outdoor space, open weekends from November to March, includes live performances, food and artists. This is a great place to do some Christmas shopping while directly supporting Native American work.

Wherever you go, you’ll meet lots of people and see how modern culture has become intertwined with native practices.

8. Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum

The Superstition Mountains are one of four places that mark the ancestral home of the Apache people. The Lost Dutchman Museum houses artifacts, photographs and art that share “the history, geology, past cultures and enduring local lore” of the Superstition Mountains.

Note that the museum is located in the remains of a former mining town and features Wild West history, as well as Native history, with performances of pseudo gold panning and gunfights. If you want a quieter way to learn about native history in the Superstitions, check out the nearby native plant trail at Lost Dutchman State Park.

Entry fee: $7/adult

Native history sites that are perfect for a day trip.

The eight locations mentioned above are great sources for learning about local and Native history of the Southwest, but you may find yourself increasingly curious to learn more. Here are three more places that are within 150 miles of Phoenix, perfect for a day trip or overnight getaway.

9. Besh Ba Gowah

The Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum in Globe houses “the remains of a large village built by the Salado culture who occupied the region between 1225 CE and 1450 CE.” Admission allows you to walk around these remains (some buildings have been reconstructed for more pristine observance), see native plants, try your hand at grinding corn, explore a museum with authentic artifacts, and watch a short documentary. There is also a small children’s gift shop to complete the visit.

In December there is an excellent light show with paper lanterns. Worth a visit; just keep in mind that if you plan to visit during the week, there are planned US 60 closures Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Entry fee: $5 (or free with a Cultural Pass)


This festival is located just outside the San Carlos Reservation in Gila County and includes native food booths, live music, art, skateboarding, and more. Attendance is free and it will be a very fun and informative afternoon. Just be sure to wear sunscreen because the elevation is about 2,000 feet higher than in the valley (which means you’ll be even closer to the sun!).

11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

Photo courtesy of StellarD via CC BY-SA 4.0.

11. Museum of Northern Arizona

The Museum of Northern Arizona is located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, on lands sacred to Native Americans throughout the region. The Museum “honors its past, present and future generations, who have lived here for millennia and will always call this place home.”

This museum is located in Flagstaff and celebrates the rich beauty, heritage, and culture of the Southwest through its various exhibits and themed events. The Heritage Festival in June hosts a gathering of the peoples of the Colorado Plateau that includes art, food, dance and more. A tour of the medicinal garden will be held later this summer. Fall offers tours of specialized collections.

The Museum of Northern Arizona is a great place to visit, any time of year, to learn about the history that has led to the beauty of the place we call home.

Entry fee: $10/youth, $15/adult (or free with a Cultural Pass)

Final thoughts

Arizona has a lot to offer in terms of native and historical education; These are just a few local locations to help you begin your journey to understanding everything that goes into establishing what we call home today. Understanding the past is an important part of protecting the future. Understanding your neighbor’s culture is an important part of living with empathy, understanding, and ultimately peace. Let’s do our part to learn what makes the land around us so fascinating, mysterious and rich in culture.

Happy learning!

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History11 Places Around Phoenix to Learn About Native/Indigenous History

  • trinidad murchie

    A teacher, writer, and traveler, Trinity lives in a small town and enjoys gardening, cooking, and exploring all things strange. Catch her at local ruins exploring haunted stories, in quaint towns with creatives, or at farmers markets in search of unique ingredients. Wherever you find her, be sure to say hello; She will also want to hear your story.