United States of America
Exploring Oklahoma’s Native American Experiences
But what, besides its majestic red rocks and green Ozark hills, makes Oklahoma so special? More than half of the state is legally recognised as Native Territory; it’s presently headquarters' to 39 different tribal nations; and is the perfect destination for learning about America’s living Native history.
If you’re looking to get inspired by one of the world’s most fascinating Indigenous cultures, Oklahoma is the place to do it. Not sure where to start? Here’s seven OK experiences to kick off your journey:
1. Dine at Natv
Often unheralded, Native American dining deserves a slice of the culinary limelight. And Broken Arrow’s Natv restaurant is doing just that. Founded by Jacques Siegfriend, of Shawnee descent, this menu is all about showcasing native ingredients in a deliciously, delicious modern way. Farm-to-table, you can expect everything from corn cakes and bison tacos to Sunchoke gnocchi. We’ll take two of everything, please and thank you.
2. Hike Jospeh H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
If you’re of the more active travel persuasion, a little time spent amongst the prairie is gonna satisfy all sorts of nature cravings. This epic expanse (almost 40,000 acres) is the south-entrance to the largest remaining virgin tallgrass prairie in the world. Steeped in history and filled with IG-worthy vistas (the kind Native Americans have looked after and enjoyed for centuries), you won’t regret spending a day hiking the Prairie Earth Trail playing spot the bison and bluebird.
3. Attend a powerful Powwow
A Powwow is a sacred ceremonial gathering where Native peoples and their guests come together to sing, dance, drum, celebrate and (sometimes) compete. It’s a powerful and moving tradition to witness, and an important ceremony in Native American culture. There are several Powwow’s that are open to the general public where you MIGHT even be invited by the emcee to participate in a dance and feel the rhythm of the Powwow drums. If that’s your thing.
4. Learn the art of Cherokee twining
There’s nothing like upskilling your craft game. And the art of twining is a first class place to start. For Cherokee people, twining by hand with natural fibres is a skill that well predates the arrival of European settlers. On Cherokee land you can learn from Betty Frogg, as she teaches you to twine a small bag. Handy! Cultured! Crafty!
5. Explore the First Americans Museum
Thirty years in the making, this is a one-of-a-kind museum that tells history through the lens of 39 Native American Nations headquartered in Oklahoma City. If you’re looking for an incredible museum experience — this is it. Expect a carefully curated collection of Native narratives, perspectives, histories, cultures and arts. You could get literally lost in the 175,000 square foot centre, but don’t worry there’s a Native-inspired restaurant to keep you fed and watered.
6. Go stargazing at Tenkiller State Park
The night sky has been an important facet of Native culture for thousands of years—informing things like agricultural practices. It’s knowledge that’s been passed down through generations. And one of the best places in Oklahoma to look up at that very same sky is Tenkiller State Park. Also known as “heaven in the hills” this slice of paradise is beautiful by day, and astounding by night.
7. Drive the Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway
Who doesn't love a road trip? And this one is an epic mosaic of rocky lowlands, prairie and tall timbers. BYO fitting playlist ('Wichita Lineman' suuurely has to feature), shift into cruise control and wind your way through incredible landscapes and historic communities. Keep an eye out for the endangered black-capped vireo, wildlife lovers. Or if flora is more your thing, head here in the warmer months when the grounds explode with wildflowers.
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