Mashantucket Pequot Museum
From descending into an Ice Age glacier to witnessing the drama of a prehistoric caribou hunt, the interactive features of the award-winning Mashantucket Pequot Museum offer groups an amazing opportunity to immerse themselves in the Pequot culture.
“The Mashantucket Pequot Reservation is the oldest continuously occupied reservation in the USA,” said Barbara Kingsland, marketing manager for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. “People commonly associate Native Americans with the Great Plains or Southwest, but of course, they lived from coast to coast. Visitors are surprised to find a world-class Native American museum in New England and are very interested in learning about the history of the Pequots and comparing their way of life pre- and post-European contact.”
This Smithsonian-affiliated institution claims the title as the world’s largest Native American museum and provides groups the chance to stroll through an authentically designed 16th-century Pequot village. The museum also boasts four acres of permanent exhibits depicting more than 18,000 years of history, numerous hiking trails surrounding a terraced garden and a 300-seat auditorium available for group rentals.
“We also have an 18-story observation tower offering beautiful panoramic views,” said Kingsland. “And the cafeteria offers native-inspired food, while the gift shop sells native-made or -inspired merchandise.”
Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center
Derived from the Tongva Indian word meaning “the place where people come together,” the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center sits on the traditional gathering and trading spot for the five tribes — Chumash, Gabrielino/Tongva, Tataviam, Kitanemuk, and Serrano — of the San Gabriel Mountains at Red Box Saddle.
The center, run by a local Native American nonprofit in the Angeles National Forest, comprises three acres and offers a two-room visitors center and museum, a stone performance circle, the Toypurina Lodge Learning Center and Gallery with a workshop patio, a 10-bed barracks for small community-group retreats and a fire engine garage for workshop space.
“Until disrupted by the missionization, the local tribes came up to the mountains at the end of summer and beginning of fall to gather the bounty of the mountains, like materials, food and medicinal plants that only can be found above 3,000 feet in elevation,” said Kat High, program coordinator for the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center.
High re-creates these gathering journeys with groups, leading them in celebrations of traditional activities like cooking native foods with the mountain’s pristine ingredients.
“Since we sit at the top of both the Los Angeles River and the San Gabriel River watersheds, our water comes from a clear spring high on the mountain and is among the best water in Los Angeles,” he said.