Millennia-old legacies of Washington’s American Indian tribes are told through the state’s towering cedar totems, engaging museums and annual cultural celebrations. Find out below where you can explore the history and traditions of Washington’s original locals.
Hibulb Cultural Center
On a 50-acre natural history preserve, this Tulalip tribute features historic canoes, a recreated longhouse and exhibits labeled in both English and Lushootseed, the Coast Salish language.
Lelooska Foundation & Museum (pictured)
Woodcarving workshops and evenings of song and ceremonial mask demos bring Northwest Coast traditions to life at this cultural center near Ariel, southwest of Mount St. Helens, where you can tour the collection of tomahawks, cornhusk bags and other preserved relics.
Amid towering trees on the Kitsap Peninsula, this LEED Gold–certified museum traces the Suquamish history back to the last ice age. Admire baskets, carvings and artifacts before paying respects at Chief Seattle’s gravesite a few blocks away.
Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center
With picture windows peering out onto the Columbia River, this Stevenson museum recounts the 40-million-year history of the Gorge region. Trace the first peoples’ influence, from the Cascade Chinook to the Clahclehlah village visited by Lewis and Clark.
Every august, this annual event stampedes into Omak with rodeo events and the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Indian Encampment and Pow Wow, featuring a teepee village and dancing. Check out more Washington events.
Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center
From traditional garb to life-size dwellings of the Plateau People, the history of Yakama Nation’s various tribes are on display at this 12,000-square-foot museum in Toppenish. Guided tours are available by appointment (Monday-Friday).
Lummi Nation Stommish Water Festival
Every June, this celebration of Coast Salish culture includes war canoe races and a traditional salmon barbecue on the Lummi reservation near Bellingham. Discover more Washington festivals.
Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture
Learn about the native cultures influencing the northeast corner of the state, from the indigenous northern Plateau Indians to 1925’s National Indian Congress, plus the “100 Stories: A Centennial Exhibition” is on display until January 2016 at this Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Spokane.
Find more Washington museums.
An unprecedented collaboration between artist Maya Lin and Pacific Northwest tribes, this seven-site art installation reinterprets the journey of Lewis and Clark. One of the recently completed installations is a Nez Perce–inspired listening circle made of sculpted earth on a Snake River island at Clarkston’s Chief Timothy Park.