Exploring Wisconsin's Native American Heritage
Last Updated: 7/28/2016
The art, traditions and culture of Wisconsin's 11 tribes help make the state a remarkable place to include the exploration of tribal history and heritage in your travel itinerary. Across the state, travelers can tour intriguing museums, explore historic villages, attend festive pow-wows and enjoy authentic Native American foods.
Museums, Exhibits & Cultural Centers
The 11 tribes that originally settled in Wisconsin have established museums, cultural centers and exhibits that tell the stories of their past. The Oneida Nation Museum in De Pere showcases one of the largest ongoing exhibits of Oneida history, including artifacts and hands-on displays. The Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire depicts the people, places and events that shaped the Chippewa Valley and includes award-winning exhibits about the Ojibwe people. The Forest County Potawatomi Historical/Cultural Center in Crandon offers exhibits on the history of the Potawatomi, their language and traditional elements of their culture.
The Milwaukee Public Museum maintains an extensive, world-class collection depicting contemporary American Indian life. Kids and adults will appreciate the intricate and dramatic display of 37 life-size Native American figures in colorful pow-wow dress accompanied by the sounds of American Indian music. Other exhibits celebrate the survival of American Indian culture and examine its history from past to present.
Indian Villages - Re-creations of the Past
Wa Swa Goning Village is a 20-acre re-creation of a 17th century Ojibwe village located on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Guided walking tours take visitors back to a time when the Ojibwe built wigwams, made birch-bark baskets, used bows, arrows and spears, and migrated as the seasons changed. Early life for Native Americans is described by costumed interpreters at Fort Folle Avoine near Danbury. The reconstructed fur-trading post and Woodland Indian village depicts Native-American life in the early 1800s.
Cultural Celebrations - Pow-wows
Wisconsin's Indian tribes regularly hold pow-wows to honor traditions and celebrate their culture. The state's largest American Indian cultural event is the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee. Held each year at Henry Maier Festival Park, the event includes a competitive pow-wow, music on five stages, dance troupes, craft demonstrations and a marketplace with a variety of vendors offering American Indian wares and authentic cuisine. Among the daily festivities is a juried fine-art show featuring works by American Indian artists from the United States and Canada.
The Lac Courte Orielles Ojibwe Nation hosts the annual Honor the Earth Pow-wow in Hayward on the third weekend in July. The celebration provides an opportunity for visitors to see firsthand a traditional pow-wow. The Oneida Pow-wow is held each year during the Fourth of July weekend. Visitors can try traditional Native-American foods, see arts and crafts and watch a spectacular grand entry, as more than 400 dancers arrive on the pow-wow grounds. Every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend, the Ho-Chunk Nation hosts bi-annual pow-wows in Black River Falls with Native-American food, music and dancing.
Casinos & Bingo
In addition to sharing their traditions, Wisconsin's 11 Indian tribes today offer exciting casino gambling and bingo throughout the state. Many of theses facilities are coupled with restaurants, lounges and hotels in a single complex.Things to Do