St. Ignace Mission, Michigan

Preserved within Marquette Mission Park is the site of the St. Ignace Mission, established by Fr. Marquette in the 17th century. A monument marks the burial site of the Jesuit missionary/explorer, and the Museum of Ojibwe Culture is housed in an adjacent building. Its exhibits highlight 17th century St. Ignace and the Contact Period when the Ojibwe, Huron, and French cultures mixed. The featured culture is the Ojibwa, the region’s original occupants. Included among the exhibits are a Huron long house and a garden with typical Native American plantings. Continue to explore the heritage of The Straits of Mackinac at sites throughout the St. Ignace region, including those linked by The Mackinac State Parks on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

The park and museum are located at 500-566 N. State Street in downtown St. Ignace at the intersection of Marquette and State Streets. St. Ignace is located at the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge, on the Upper Peninsula, at the junction of US-2 and I-75.

            

Fort Vasquez Museum, Colorado

Fort Vasquez was an important center for the Rocky Mountain fur trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. Native Americans brought hides and pelts to the post to exchange for blankets, kettles, whiskey, and even such items as black silk handkerchiefs and ivory combs. The fort was built by traders Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It had living quarters, a barn, storage, and trade rooms. Competition from other fur trade posts in the region forts forced Vasquez and Sublette to sell out in 1841, and over the next century the adobe structure fell into ruins. By 1937 only portions of the original walls remained. The Works Progress Administration reconstructed the fort in the late 1930’s and archaeological excavations were conducted in the 1960’s. Museum exhibits describe the fur trade, display Native American artifacts, and discuss information on such unusual topics as mountain man etiquette.

Fort Vasquez Museum is located at 13412 U.S. Route 85, one mile south of the town of Platteville, Colorado. Platteville is north of Denver.

Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, Kentucky

I first read the story of the Battle of Blue Licks as a kid growing up in nearby southern Ohio. It struck me then, and it strikes me now, as one of the sadder stories of its kind from the frontier period. The salt springs at the site had attracted animals for millennia and formed a center of Indian life. Early settler frequented the place to obtain badly needed salt supplies. Indians captured Daniel Boone here while he was making salt for his settlement. (He later made a daring and famous escape.) But the sad part of the story came in 1782. Blue Licks is most renowned as the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War in Kentucky. In 1782, Kentucky militia pursued a raiding party of Indians and British soldiers to the vicinity of Blue Licks. Ignoring the warnings of Daniel Boone and others, the militia commander ordered an attack right into a perfect ambush spot. The merits of the location had not escaped the Indians and British, and the Kentuckians suffered great losses, including Boone’s son, Israel. During the nineteenth century, the mineral springs made Blue Licks a popular health resort. Today the park has recreational facilities, a lodge, nature trails, and a museum of frontier and Native American life.

The park is located 48 miles northeast of Lexington on US 68.

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, South Dakota

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is on the site of several villages established by Native Americans around 1000 AD near what is now Mitchell, South Dakota. About a thousand people lived in the village in 70 huts constructed of timber frames and mud plaster. The site has been amazingly well preserved because the land has not been plowed in modern times, leaving the ground relatively untouched and full of artifacts. The museum consists of two facilities, the Boehnen Museum and the Archeodome. The Boehnen Museum houses the Patton Gallery, which exhibits an artifact display (including arrowheads and tools) and a replica of a prehistoric Indian Village lodge. The Archeodome is built over two earth lodges and serves as a year round archeological laboratory, allowing archaeologists unlimited access to the excavation site.

Mississinewa Battlefield, Indiana

I came upon this site unexpectedly while returning from an archaeological investigation I conducted near Marion, Indiana. I often drive on the back roads and “Blue Highways” when I am out doing field work. Interesting discoveries can be made when driving “off the beaten path.” The Mississinewa Battlefield is one of a number of historic sites in the Old Northwest Territories associated with the War of 1812.

Michilimackinac and Detroit were captured by the British by the summer of 1812 mostly with the assistance of the Native American Indiana populations in the region. Some from the Miami and Delaware groups had assembled along the Mississinewa River, a tributary of the Wabash River. Uneasy with the growing number of Indians gathering here William Henry Harrison, commander of the North Western Army, directed Lieutenant Colonel John B. Campbell to rout these people.

With a force of approximately 600 men Campbell marched through the regions burning villages they encountered. By the middle of December the returned to the site of their first attack along the Mississinewa River to camp. Early the next morning the were ambushed by an undetermined number of Indians. The battle was brief. Fifteen Indians and eight of Campbell’s soldiers had been killed. Forty two soldiers and an unknown number of Indians were badly wounded. Campbell gathered his forces and retreated to Greenville.

Today the battlefield can be found seven miles northwest of Marion, Indiana. It has two monuments: one dedicated to the American Indians and one to the American Soldiers. There are also twelve marked graves on the site. Every Autumn there is a reenactment of the battle at the site.

 

Aztalan State Park, Wisconsin

Aztalan is a prehistoric Native American archaeological site that is incorporated into Aztalan State Park located in southeastern Wisconsin. Archaeological evidence indicates that this was a stockaded village site, occupied between 1100-1300 AD. It is the largest site of its kind in Wisconsin, and is considered to be the northernmost extension of the Middle Mississippian culture group. In other words, attributes of this site were influenced by or similar to a group of prehistoric Native American sites located south of here in an area that covers the central Mississippi River Valley, the lower Ohio River Valley, and most of the Mid-South area, including western and central Kentucky, western Tennessee, and northern Alabama and Mississippi. These sites share many culture attributes including large ceremonial mounds, residential complexes that are sometimes enclosed by stockades or ramparts, extensive trade networks and advanced agricultural practices. The two major Middle Mississippian sites are Cahokia in Illinois and Moundville in Alabama.

Since Azatlan’s discovery in 1836, there has been intermittent archaeological activity, with the most important excavation in 1919. After the site became a state park in 1948, efforts were made to reconstruct parts of the ancient village. Today, visitors may tour this National Historic Landmark site and explore its partially restored stockade enclosure and famous mounds. Aztalan is open daily, April through October.

Three Tribes Museum, North Dakota

Living within the valley of the Missouri River, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations were among the most powerful tribes of the northern plains. The Three Affiliated Tribes lived in large, consolidated villages consisting of earth lodges that housed between ten and thirty people each. Villages were constructed on terraces and bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, and were frequently fortified with ditches and palisades. The Three Tribes Museum is devoted to the history and culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, who where instrumental in the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Corps of Discovery passed the winter of 1804-1805 among the Mandan. Had they not benefited from the knowledge, material culture and food stores of the Mandan, the Corps of Discovery would likely have perished during the bitter cold that characterizes winter on the northern plains. Opening in 1964, the Three Tribes Museum is located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa currently reside. The museum features artwork, crafts, artifacts and other items relating to the three tribes.

Location map and directions.

Links: Three Tribes Museum

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep protects a collection of unique prehistoric archeological sites of the ancestral Puebloan people, also called the Anasazi. Human habitation at Hovenweep dates back over 10,000 years ago when nomadic Paleoindians visited the Cajon Mesa to gather food and hunt game. By about 900 A.D., people started to settle here year-round, planting and harvesting crops on the mesa’s top. At its prime in the late 1200’s, the Hovenweep area was home to over 2,500 people. The inhabitants of Hovenweep were part of the large farming culture which occupied the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from about 500 B.C. until nearly A.D. 1300. These people excelled in architectural and craft skills as well as farming. The surviving buildings at Hovenweep are the remnants of the settlements built during the high point of their occupation of region. The structures are numerous and varied. Some are square, some D-shaped, some round, some measuring nearly four stories tall. There are towers, kivas, pueblos, room blocks, granaries, check dams, and farming terraces. By the end of the thirteenth century the people of Hovenweep and the surrounding region (such as Mesa Verde and Kayenta) packed up and left the area, presumably moving southward and joining with the people of the Hopi and Zuni. Several theories have developed as to the reasons for the ancestral Puebloans’ departure. Some say they were forced out by hostile neighbors. Others say a combination of overpopulation, overuse of the land, and a 20 year drought beginning in the year 1276 made the area uninhabitable. The first historic reports of the abandoned structures at Hovenweep were made by W.D. Huntington, the leader of a Mormon expedition into southeast Utah in 1854. In 1917-18, J.W. Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution surveyed the area. Fewkes recommended the structures be protected.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Links: Hovenweep National Monument

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz is one of the most popular tourist sites of any kind in the
country. For purposes of “traveling the past,” Alcatraz is a “three-fer.”
Alcatraz was initially intended to be a fortified stronghold in San Francisco
Bay. It was, however, never very functional as a military facility. It was too
far out in the bay to be resupplied easily, and some of its military buildings
were obsolete even before they were finished. Still, Alcatraz served as a
military prison before it was a civilian one. For 34 years of course, Alcatraz
was the civilian “mother of prisons,” the maximum-security penitentiary el
supremo, the… , well, you get the point. Alcatraz may not have been too far from
land for some very strong swimmers, but currents, tides, and water temperature
of the bay made it the safest place to put the “worst of the worst.” Finally,
Alcatraz was the scene of a controversial 19-month action by an organized group
of Native Americans, who occupied the island to claim it and call attention to
the historical wrongs against their people. Oh, there’s also a fine lighthouse,
and the view alone is well worth the ferry ride.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Links: Alcatraz Island

Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Mesa Verde National Park was the first site in the National Park Service specifically established to preserve cultural artifacts. From about A.D. 600 through 1300 the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people lived in “cliff dwellings,” stone villages constructed in the sheltered alcoves of canyon walls. After 700 years of habitation, these dwellings were abandoned within the span of one or two generations. Their descendants still live in the southwest today. The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are among the best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park had a difficult fire season in the summer of 2000, but the park has reopened with no damage to the cliff dwellings or the park’s collection of artifacts.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Links: Mesa Verde National Park