Traveling to Indian Reservations doesn’t register on many people’s “travel bucket lists.” There are a lot of reasons for this, which are far too complicated to get into here, ranging from cultural disconnects to overt racism. That’s a shame, as a trip to an Indian Reservation is an enlightening experience and should be essential to get a handle on who we really are as Americans.
Indian Country (that’s the collective name for all of America and Canada’s reservations) is home to many of the first peoples of this country. There you’ll find wholly unique cultures and some of the most beautiful scenery on the continent — from the Badlands of South Dakota to the vast hop fields of the Yakama Valley to the blue waterfalls of the Havasupai.
Indian reservations are also at the very bottom of America’s socio-economic ladder. There are no poorer, sicker, and at-risk Americans than those living on reservations. It may feel difficult to know how to help those left behind in America, especially when it all seems so far away. But there is a way to help, right now in fact. Go there. Book a tour. Eat at a roadside diner. Hire a guide. Visit art galleries. Buy things. Spend money in general. Tourism dollars are a great way to support our fellow Americans who are at the bottom, struggling to finally rise above their lot in this American life.
Below are 12 amazing destinations around Indian Country where you can spend your summer tourist dollars, gain incredible experiences, and help Native-run businesses. There are, of course, more places than just these 12. America has 326 Indian Reservations and over 500 recognized tribes, with variously incorporated communities. Take these 12 as a starting point. Then, when you get home, find the reservation nearest you and check it out.
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I can’t tell you how many times Project 562 has been compared to the work of Edward S. Curtis. . . Recent studies have revealed that 64% of Americans believe that The American Indian no longer exists. This includes our current President. We feel that this is in part due to the preponderance of Edward S Curtis’s “vanishing race” images in galleries, books, and online platforms – all of the spaces that could otherwise be held by images of contemporary First People. . . Project 562’s sole mission is to Change the Way We See Native America by spreading authentic narrative and images direct from contemporary Native Americans. We hope that one day when you Google search ‘Native American’ instead of seeing 1800s Curtis images of a “vanishing race”, instead you will see images like this one, by Nadya Kwandibens @_anishinaabekwe. . . More on why we refuse to exhibit alongside Curtis in our new blog post, link in bio. . #retirecurtis