The rugged mountain state is one of the best places to connect with America’s indigenous roots
This week sees the return of the Native American Celebration in the Park (NACIP) to Salt Lake City, Utah, with thousands of national and international visitors attending the colourful event that showcases the music, dance, art and culture of Native Americans.
The festival is one of a number of major Native American events taking place in Utah over the next 12 months, including the Navajo Fair and Rodeo (held in Bluff this September), the Living Traditions Festival (hosted each May in Salt Lake City) and the White Mesa Bear Dance and Pow Wow, a lively tradition first recorded by early Spanish explorers and still held on Utah’s White Mesa Ute Reservation every September.
Even the name ‘Utah’ comes from the Ute tribe who settled around the Great Salt Lake basin, and there are plenty of year-round ways to explore their heritage and traditions – as well as those of Utah’s other native tribes, including the Navajo, Shoshone and Piute. Here are three of the best:
- Native American Village at This Is The Place Heritage Park: An extraordinary outdoor site dedicated to hands-on heritage, ‘This Is The Place’ on the outskirts of Salt Lake City recently unveiled a painstakingly accurate recreation of a Native American village. The site includes the largest Teepee in America (capable of seating 110 guests) as well as an authentic Medicine Wheel and both male and female ‘Hogans’ – traditional buildings used for religious ceremonies and family life respectively. www.thisistheplace.org
- Nine Mile Canyon: Deep in the Utah desert, about an hour’s drive from the town of Price, you will find the world’s longest art gallery. Don’t be fooled by its name though: ‘Nine Mile Canyon’ actually runs for more than 40 miles, and is adorned with thousands of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs, many of them over 1,000 years old. Guided tours run out of Price. www.castlecountry.com/Nine-Mile-Canyon
- Monument Valley Tour: The ancient Navajo Tribal Lands in southern Utah are rich with history and make for a fascinating visit. Goulding’s Lodge offers guided jeep tours of Monument Valley led by local Navajo guides who grew up in and around the area. Take a tour at sunrise, sunset, during a full moon or opt for a full day tour. Experience spectacular canyons, buttes and mesas and stop at locations where John Ford, John Wayne and many other legendary figures of the southwest have left their footprints. www.gouldings.com/tours
For more information on Utah, visit www.visitutah.com