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Boston's Best Ways To Celebrate Native American History And Culture

Totem Pole
(Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

November is Native American history month, and Boston offers plenty of ways to celebrate it. Of course, November is not the only time of year that it is possible to celebrate the Native American culture and history of the area.

Numerous tribes hold public gatherings and museums with great Native American exhibits and pieces are open year round. If you're looking for ways to branch out culturally, these are Boston's best ways to celebrate Native American history and culture.

Hall of the North American Indian
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnicity at Harvard University
11 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 496-1027

Price: Free for ages 3 and younger and those with Harvard ID/$8 for children/$10 for students and seniors/$12 for adults

The Hall of the North American Indian at the Peabody Museum is not the largest exhibit in the city, but it hosts great pieces, including the "Kaats and Bear Pole." It is a modern totem pole made for the museum by Tlingit carver Nathan Jackson. The museum commissioned it after it returned a more than 100-year-old totem to the Tlingits. The hall features looks at and artifacts of Native Americans all over the country, making it arguably the best Native American exhibit in Boston.

Cultural Survival Bazaar
Cambridge College 
1000 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 868-1000

Price: free
Hours: Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Cultural Survival Bazaar is a great way to celebrate Native American history and culture because it is a celebration of tribal history and culture. It is about art, food, music and sharing. This bazaar is a perfect place to learn, participate and maybe even bring home something to remember the experience by. This year will feature Native American flute player Hawk Henries, Yayla tribal rugs, Novak jewelry, hand-woven baskets and dancers.

Read "Igniting King Philip's War: The John Sassamon Murder Trial"
by Yasuhide Kawashima

"Igniting King Philip's War: The John Sassamon Trial" takes a deep look at the John Sassamon trial, which was one of the most important factors leading up to the major conflict between natives and Europeans that was King Philip's War. Sassamon was a Massachusetts Native American who converted to Christianity and began acting as a translator between the whites and natives of the area. He was murdered in 1674. Three Native American men that belonged to King Philip's tribe were executed for the murder, though their leader proclaimed their innocence. This novel shows just how this event, and the clashing of cultures, set the natives and Puritans against each other right here in Massachusetts.

14th Annual First People's Pavilion Cultural Festival
Pilgrim Memorial Park
Water Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 295-8193

Price: free
Dates: Nov. 21 to Nov. 24

The 14th Annual First People's Pavilion Cultural Festival in Plymouth is a pow-wow hosted by the Federation of Old Plimoth Indian Tribes. It differs from the Cultural Survival Bazaar in that it is not an event with vendors and craftspeople. It is a gathering strictly meant to celebrate native cultures in the region. The site chosen is interesting, as it is a popular site for celebrating the coming of the pilgrims to Plymouth. Plymouth Rock and several other tributes to both cultures are seen all over the immediate area.

A Legacy of Change: Native American Art
Peabody Essex Museum

161 Essex St.
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-9500

Price: $15 for adults/$13 for seniors/$11 for children 16 and younger/free for Salem residents
Hours: through June – Tues to Sun – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Closed Mon

"A Legacy of Change: Native American Art" at the Peabody Essex Museum is the second big native art exhibit at the museum in as many years. This exhibit features roughly two centuries of Native American art, thus visualizing the change it has undertaken in that time. It will be on view at the Wheatland Gallery until June of 2013. If this turns out to be a trend, Bostonians will have yet another expansive exhibit to view by mid-2013 as well. If not, the PEM still has its usual collection pieces of Native American history.

Related: Boston's Best Up-and-Coming Artists

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at

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