BISMARCK, N.D. (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 experience Native American culture.
To authentically experience Native American culture, you can attend an upcoming powwow, as well as visit one of the state’s numerous Native American museums and cultural centers.
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 some of the first Europeans associated with dancing. The word originally meant “medicine man” but became accepted by Europeans to refer to dancing and gatherings, later being spelled “powwow.”
Visitors to current powwows will experience a multi-day festival centered around traditional song and dance performances, traditional foods, as well as vendors selling arts and crafts. A list of powwows held by the different tribal nations can be found here.
Tour historic sites and museums
The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck offers an interactive and informative overview of Native American history and culture. One display of note is the Native American Hall of Honors, 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, as well as several other Native American villages.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was home to Sakakawea before she joined Lewis and Clark.
Learn about the five tribal nations
Five sovereign First Nations share geography with North Dakota and have deep connections to the plains.
North Dakota’s first community, Pembina, was built by the Chippewa, the descendants of Chippewa 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 area and the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway offers a route through the beautiful landscape.
The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation operates the 4 Bears Casino and Lodge, as well as a newly opened MHA Interpretive Center that houses a collection of artifacts and art, as well as earth lodges and tipis.
The entire Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway is within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land. Drive all or a portion of the 350-mile route.
The Spirit Lake Nation includes several different nations of Lakota/Dakota peoples, many of whom live on the south shore of Devils Lake near Fort Totten. The Fort Totten State Historic Site offers visitors a look into the history of the area and the tribe.
The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe is centered around Lake Traverse tribal land which extends across the border with South Dakota. The tribe operates the Dakota Winds Golf Course and the Dakota Magic Casino, both on the North Dakota side of the tribal land.