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Honoring California’s Native History

Across California, destinations honor and celebrate the rich history of Native American tribes who first inhabited the state more than 15,000 years ago. From cultural heritage centers and museums to annual festivals and historic hotels, the state is a leader in preserving and uplifting Native American history. Learn more about California’s Native American history on your next trip with these wonderful offerings.

Cultural Centers and Museums 


Honoring the Chumash Tribe in Ventura County

Discover the local history of Ventura County, from the stories of the Chumash people to present-day facts at the Museum of Ventura County. The Chumash exhibit at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum details the Chumash as a seafaring civilization. Honor the Chumash with a tour of the Old Mission Basilica San Buenaventura or take a trip to the Channel Islands National Park where the Chumash hunted, fished and traded. 


New Cultural Center in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the original inhabitants of the area. Explore their history and culture at historic sites like the sacred reservations at Tahquitz and Indian Canyons. In spring 2023, the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza will open, including a Cultural Museum, Gathering Plaza, gardens, Oasis Trail and The Spa at Séc-he, which will restore access to the underground ancient healing mineral waters.


Oakland Exhibits

Visitors of the Oakland Museum of California can experience three informative exhibits including Before the Other People Came, Taking Native Lands and Lives and the Native American Collections which focus on the history, culture and artifacts.


Native Sites in San Diego

With over 32,000 archaeological sites in San Diego County, the San Diego Archaeology Center in Escondido features a rich collection of artifacts and allows visitors to learn the story of how people have lived in San Diego County for the past 12,000 years The Barona Cultural Center & Museum, located on a Native American reservation, offers a unique educational journey with listening alcoves, photographic displays, archives and more than 300 artifacts. Cupa Cultural Center is dedicated to the Pala Indians and enhancing traditional cultural practices. 


Tongva and Gabrieliño Tales in Catalina

The Catalina Island Conservancy illustrates the history of Catalina’s first Native American islanders – the Tongva or Gabrieliño. The Catalina Museum for Art & History is the only organization to present the complete history of Santa Catalina. The museum has a collection of Catalina pottery and tile, and a large selection of Native American artifacts from the island’s Tongva tribe, among many other artifacts.


Majestic Parks, Gardens and Hiking Trails


The Ohlone Trail That Shaped San Mateo County’s History

Historic Sweeney Ridge commemorates Captain Gaspar de Portolá’s expedition to Monterey Bay which led to the first accidental sighting of the San Francisco Bay. For its 250th anniversary, plans were developed to tell the story of the Native Ohlone people who were instrumental in supporting the Portolá Expedition. Visitors can now take a journey through San Mateo County’s history and experience the first sighting location with the development of the Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail.


People of the Earth’s Santa Monica Park

In honor of the Tongva, “people of the earth” and Native habitants of Santa Monica, the city built Tongva Park, a six-acre urban oasis adjacent to the beach. Guests can take self-guided tours of the park, which is divided into four main sections: Observation Hill, Discovery Hill, Garden Hill and Gathering Hill. The park features a native and locally appropriate sustainable plant palette that changes subtly with the seasons. Visit the Santa Monica History Museum to view artifacts and learn more about the Tongva people. 


Condors at the First Tribally Operated State Park Visitor Center

Absent from Northern California for more than a century, condors took flight for the first time this year in the Redwood National Park near the ancestral Yurok grounds. A live cam of the sacred birds’ habitation is on display at the newly opened Chah-pekw O’ Ket’-toh “Stone Lagoon” Visitor Center within Humboldt Lagoons State Park, the first tribally operated information center within the California State Park system. 


Morgan Hill’s Native American Garden

The Native American Garden at Villa Mira Monte honors the Amah Mutsun peoples, who’ve inhabited Morgan Hill for over 10,000 years. An exhibit within the nearby museum tells the Amah Mutsun story from creation to present day, while the exterior garden contains plants that were used by the tribe for food, medicine, weaving and more. 


Walk the Me-Wuk Trail in Tuolumne

Tuolumne, also known as “Stone Houses,” is home to two native tribes - the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and the Chicken Ranch Band of Me-Wuk Indians. The annual Me-Wuk Lifeways offers visitors authentic experiences to learn about and view ancient Native American dwellings and interpretive exhibits in the High Sierra region of Pinecrest Lake area on the Shadows of the Me-Wok Trail.


Explore the Culture of the Yokuts in a Self-Guided Tour

Explore the amazing culture of the local Yokuts and Western Mono tribes in a self-guided tour that begins in Visalia. Visitors will start at Mooney Grove Museum to see one of the largest native American woven basket collections on display. Next, they will head to the Kaweah Heritage Visitors Center at Kaweah Lake to see bedrock mortar. Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park is next to see some of the finest examples of native American pictographs. The largest Native American village within current park boundaries once thrived here. 


Visit Native Historic Sites in Siskiyou 

The Lava Beds National Monument has more than 700 caves with Native American rock art sites. The rocks are carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs located in the traditional territory of the Modoc people and their ancestors. Stewart Mineral Springs also offers a unique environment of sacred mineral waters and a variety of workshops where the Karuk Tribe has respected these springs for generations.


Grinding Rock State Historic Park

Grinding Rock State Historic Park in Amador County is an amazing living history of the Miwok tribe. The Round House at the park has been restored throughout the years to still act as a ceremonial gathering place for several tribes. There is also the Grinding Rock (Chaw'se) with 1,185 cup-shaped mortars – the largest collection in North America – with 363 petroglyphs carved amongst the mortars estimated to be 2,000-3,000 years old.


Educational Festivals and Attractions


Long Beach’s Annual Moompetam Festival

For nearly 20 years, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has hosted the Moompetem American Indian Festival to celebrate and bring awareness to California’s Indigenous maritime culture. Sept. 17-18, 2022 the festival will feature traditional cultural craft demonstrations, storytelling, music and dance. Exhibitors and participants include local tribes such as the Tongva, Chumash, Acjachemen, Costanoan, Luiseño and Kumeyaay. 


Los Angeles Native American Culture and Heritage 

Explore the history and impact of Los Angeles’ Native American culture and heritage at the Autry Museum of the American West that’s filled with Native film memorabilia, historic firearms and paintings. The Becoming Los Angeles exhibit at the National History Museum has sections on the Gabrielino and Tongva homelands. Heritage Park has traditional Tongva dwellings built by Tongva volunteers and Wishtoyo Chumash Village authentically recreates a working Native American village.


Festivals, Tours in Del Norte County

Del Norte County is rich with Native American culture. Experience the Yurok tribe’s annual Klamath Salmon Festival on Aug. 20, 2022 or Tolowa Dee-ni’ Day on Sept. 10, 2022. Hike the Grove of Titans to view the tallest coastal redwood trees on earth that are sacred to the Tolowa, tour the Yurok Country Visitor Center for local gems or book a Redwood Yurok Canoe Tour to paddle in an authentic hand-carved dugout canoe. 


Red Market in Oakland

Headquartered in Oakland, the Native American Health Center sponsors the popular Indigenous Red Market in the city’s Fruitvale District the first Sunday of the month. Each Red Market features local and national Native American entertainment, food, arts and crafts and more. The next Indigenous Red Market will be part of the Native American Health Center’s Golden Anniversary Pow Wow on Sept. 24, 2022. 


Learn More About Native Cultures in Eureka 

The Wiyot Heritage Center just 15 miles south of Eureka is dedicated to the understanding, revitalization and celebration of Wiyot culture. It’s home to a permanent collection of Wiyot cultural materials and also showcases temporary exhibits, educational programming and festivals throughout the year. In the city of Eureka, the American Indian Art and Gift Shop features work by more than 40 local indigenous artists and many out-of-area Native artists and crafters. Visitors can view extensive Native American basketry and regalia at the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka.


Historic Hotels


Experience a Kuyam at Ojai Valley Inn

Surrounded by sprawling hills and lush greens, Ojai Valley Inn continues to honor its Native American history and the Chumash Indians who settled in Ojai more than 10,000 years ago. From the names of its buildings and spaces throughout the property to signature experiences, guests are immersed in Chumash heritage. At Spa Ojai, guests can experience a Kuyam (“a place to rest together”), a therapeutic detoxifying massage coupled with a meditative and traditional Chumash narrative. 


Temecula’s Native American Owned and Operated Resort 

Located in Temecula Valley, Pechanga Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians who created the luxury resort to pay tribute to their heritage. Guests can admire the cultural, historical and artist installations in the resort’s lobby and Summit Events Center. Spa Pechanga offers services derived from the healing botanicals used by Native people. It’s one of the only Native American-inspired spas in California.