Explore Native American Heritage Month In Your New RV

November is Native American Heritage Month, and it’s a great time for those of us who pack up our new or used RVs and set out to explore this great nation to take an extra moment to appreciate all the ways Native Americans have influenced our shared American experience, whether it’s through food, art, music or crafts.

The President recently issued this proclamation: “This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe’s identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream.”

Whether your next RV road trip takes you across the country or across the state, we found several resources to help us all learn more about the rich, varied, triumphant (although sometimes heartbreaking) history of American Indians.

Where to start:

Nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov

A number of institutions, including The Library of Congress, National Park Service and Smithsonian, have joined forces to create a one-stop info-site for events around the country, online museum exhibits, veterans’ support, audio, video and resources for teachers.

Around the country:

  • The National Park Service has created a special list of park sites called “Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Places Reflecting America’s Diverse Cultures” not only for sites of Native American significance but all cultures of the Americas.
  • The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, is not to be missed.
  • You can also read about Native American Veterans from World War II to Iraq with this collection of personal stories.

In Minnesota:

  • The University of Minnesota, Crookston, will host events November 16 through November 20. Check out their website for more info.
  • Watch the short video “A Day in the Life of Minnesota Tribal Nations”

Did you know?

  • Minnesota is a Siouan Indian word meaning “cloudy water.”
  • The original inhabitants of the area that is Minnesota included: The Dakota Sioux tribe; The Ojibwe tribe.
  • There are eleven federally recognized Indian tribes in Minnesota today, and they comprise the Chippewa, Ojibwe, Sioux and Dakota tribes.

Minnesota RV Adventures: Hiking

For every Minnesota motorhome on the road, you’ll find at least one strong opinion about what makes a great hike, and where to find the most amazing scenery.  For some of us, fall is prime time for hiking, so we thought we’d share a few lists that highlight some of the best hikes in the U.S.

In its article describing the 10 Best Hiking Spots in the U.S., the Discovery Channel pondered why we hike at all. Ultimately, they wrote, “Vistas and waterfalls, giant redwoods and granite mountain faces aren’t typically visible from the interior of your car. And even when they are, it’s not the same as feeling the earth beneath your feet and standing on the edge of the cliff.”

If you’re traveling the country in your Pleasureland RV, there’s a great hiking spot not far from your destination. USA Today published a list of 51 hikes – one in each state plus the District of Columbia.  Not surprisingly, many of the best hikes are found in the National Parks, and National Geographic created a list of its picks for the 20 best trails.

Minnesota has some spectacular trails of its own, including hikes at Afton State Park where you can climb from the banks of the St. Croix River to a bluff overlooking the river valley.  If the name “Afton” sounds familiar, you may be thinking about the Robert Burns poem, “Afton Waters.” Hikes here could easily have been his inspiration.  There’s an easy, four-mile loop, and you can learn more about Afton State Park and read about 19 other popular Minnesota trails on Trails.com.

Finally, here are a few safety reminders. Before you head out on your hike, be sure someone knows where you’re headed, and when to expect you back. Take a backpack with supplies that make sense for the length of your hike, and the terrain you’ll encounter. Even for a short day hike, you’ll want to take plenty of water, a few snacks, a first aid kit, rain gear, and an extra jacket. The weather can change with little warning and it pays to be prepared.  What’s your favorite hike?