Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 4, November 2011

No Longer Circling the Wagons: Many National Parks Get Indian Stories Wrong
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Condensed by Native Village


The U.S. National Park system operates nearly 400 sites. Most are directly connected to American Indian culture and history. Unfortunately, the NPS usually leaves out the Native stories. If the stories are included, they're often told through the eyes of other people. The NPS also tends to talk about the deeds of settlers and ignores the impact those actions had on American Indians.

Among the worst offenders:

Indiana Dunes National Seashore

Tells of the Potawatomi tribe through the eyes of a white man. It does not tell the story of how the the Potawatomi ended up on a “Trail of Death” westward, across the Mississippi.

Fort Davis National Historic Site

 Details about soldiers’ lives dominate the NPS story. The  "Buffalo Soldiers" are a major feature.

Indian exhibits get less space than Henry O. Flipper, the first African American to graduate from West Point.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Includes a covered wagon and part of the original Oregon Trail.

The park has 62 documented archaeological sites but does not tell how Indians used them before white man arrived.

Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center

Tells the story of the emigrants. 

American Indians appear in an exhibit entitled, “The White Emigrants Met the Mounted Hunters of the Plains.”


Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Tell the story of soldiers’ lives in a frontier garrison.

The park has restored many large military building, but there're just one tipi and one Native story.

Also included are  gravestones of Indians who died in the Battle of Greasy Grass, a.k.a. Little Bighorn
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
North Dakota

Emphasizes the story of Theodore Roosevelt, the natural environment and the wildlife. It largely forgets the Indians who lived here.

Read about the best National Parks:
National Parks that Best [and Worst] Tell American Indian Culture and History

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