The 11 sovereign Native American nations of Wisconsin welcome visitors in each of their communities to learn about their stories, cultures and ways of life. Across the state are more than half a million acres of natural beauty ready to be explored. Here are just a handful of exceptional destinations with strong connections to Wisconsin’s tribes:
This park perched on the eastern shores of Lake Winnebago got its name from the limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, which were considered sacred and used by early Native Americans for burials and ceremonies. Visitors will love discovering the Indian Mound Trail, a 40-foot observation tower, effigy mounds and a statue of Winnebago chief Red Bird.
Frog Bay Tribal National Park – Red Cliff
Frog Bay opened to the public less than three years ago as America’s first tribal national park. The 90-acre property boasts incredible views of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands, along with fantastic trails to bike or hike in the summer and ski or snowshoe during the winter. Located on a quarter-mile shoreline stretch of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, the park is home to more than 90 bird species, along with black bears, porcupines and of course, frogs!
Just east of Frog Bay is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, famous for dazzling travelers year-round with its sea caves. More than half of Wisconsin’s native tribes called the islands home at one point or another. Today, it’s a popular spot for fishing, hunting, camping, kayaking, lighthouse tours and more.
The Menominee, Wisconsin’s oldest continuing residents, are a global leader in sustainable forestry practices — and their growing “island of timber in an ocean of cleared land” in northeastern Wisconsin is proof. The tribal forest, which is monitored and harvested based on a meticulous inventory system, contains about 30 species of trees from hemlocks and sugar maples to aspens and hickories, as well as hundreds of miles of trout streams. Getting to the forest is pretty easy, thanks to the many public access points.
In addition to exploring natural native attractions, be sure to find time to attend a pow-wow in Wisconsin, or visit one of many Native American museums and cultural centers across the state.
Planning on discovering Native Wisconsin this summer? Share your own photos, destination ideas and travel tips with me on Twitter using #DiscoverWisconsin.
Mariah Haberman is one of the hosts of Discover Wisconsin, the nation’s longest-running travel TV show. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Tweet her: @MariahHaberman