This all started with a link to the Iroquois White Corn Project.
Someone I follow on Twitter posted a link to it. As I read through their website with great interest I realized that we drive right past the Ganondagan site every other summer on road trips to visit family in the Midwest. We could so easily stop there - if only we had known about it!
I bookmarked the page and tried to file the information away in my mental to-do/bucket list, but in the midst a life full of raising kids and school activities and mortgage payments, these kinds of things are hard to keep track of.
I was reminded of Ganondagan and the Iroquois White Corn Project when I read this news article on Indian Country Today. The National Parks Service and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) are partnering to create the "American Indians and Route 66" program which will highlight Native historical and cultural sites for visitors along the highway from Illinois to California.
I'm from Oklahoma and used to travel a piece of Route 66 on the way to visit my grandparents when I was growing up. I'd love to take my kids on a road trip down that same stretch and be able to show them, not just the Sonic drive-in in Bristow where we used to sit and watch the classic car clubs pull through, but also the pieces of Creek Nation history and culture we might be missing.
Although my family is white with no Native American ancestry at all, we (settler colonials, yes,) have lived in Indian Country for six generations. I grew up in Okmulgee, the council town of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe, and Pawhuska, the capitol of the Osage Nation. I have history and anthropology degrees from the University of Oklahoma. Indian people, indigenous history and culture, and current sociopolitical issues are interesting and important to me. Native American communities are integral to the fabric of Oklahoma life, and they should be across all of America.
Again, I bookmarked the webpage and added this info to my mental checklist.
I finally had the idea for this travel blog when I came across the Massachusetts Native American Trails Project, which seeks to create a single website that educates locals and tourists about all of the Native tribes in Massachusetts and promotes their heritage sites.
I live in the Boston area now and am trying to educate myself about the tribes in New England. My knowledge of Native American culture east of the Mississippi is pretty thin, I admit. The tribes here are smaller and lower profile, and you really have to go looking for places that even mention their existence. But after a trip to Plimouth Plantation a few years ago, where we listened to a Cherokee interpreter speak about Wampanoag wetus and the relationship between the tribe and the English villagers, my interest was sparked. There are a handful of places on the Trails Project website within a day-trip's distance of us that I could take my girls to this summer.
I feel like there is a lot of information scattered over the internet, but you have to go digging for it. I wanted to start putting all these ideas and destinations together somewhere for myself. I'm also hoping to write here about my own adventures travelling to some of these places with my family.
Native tourism is growing by leaps and bounds right now. New places are opening all the time. Tribal communities all over North America are witnessing a renaissance, and greater resources are available for historical preservation and education through tourism, as well as growth in Native-owned businesses that promote tribal culture and traditions. I want to know what's out there so I can visit them and learn with my kids. I want to support Native artists and crafts people and small business owners.
I believe people should get to know their neighbors and listen to the stories that need to be told right here at home. There's so much about America that I don't know. It's time to get out on the road and see it.