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Best Ways To Celebrate Native American History And Culture In Detroit

Native American Totem Pole
(Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

Native American History Month kicks off this November and Detroiters can learn more about the city's roots and indigenous people. Detroit has a rich Native American history and there are many sites and cultural items through which it can be celebrated.

University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
1109 Geddes Ave. 
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 764-0478

The University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History is a child-friendly museum on campus where there are some permanent displays and some that vary. From November through April, the museum features a program called "Stories My Ancestors Told," appropriate for ages three and up. The program is about 45 minutes long and is pre-recorded but also has a live portion. The show is about night sky stories but focuses on stories from the Ojibwa, Odawa and Bodewadmi tribes of Michigan. There is street parking nearby and also garages with the closest on Fletcher Street near North University Avenue.

Detroit Institute of Art
5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900
The DIA has an exhibit on Africa, Oceania and the Indigenous Americas and it includes a section on Indigenous American art, including pieces spanning more than 3,000 years throughout history. The museum has a Navajo wool blanket from the 1870s, as well as a Western Apache blanket from the early 20th century. Its American Indian materials join pieces from North, Central and South America in comprising this exhibit. There is also an emphasis on Egyptian art and Oceanic art, as well as African and African-American art.

Related: Best Bizarre Statues Or Public Art In The Detroit Area

John K. King Used and Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-0622

The John K. King bookstore in Detroit specializes in used and rare books with many books about Native Americans as well as history books that touch on their history. From looking at the website, one could purchase an aluminum coin featuring the 100th anniversary of The Detroit Bank for $15, which has a Native American profile on one side of the coin. If your pockets run a little deeper, the shop has the book "The Native American Heritage: A Survey of North American Indian Art" for $250, which was originally published in 1977 by the Art Institute of Chicago. Another good choice would be "American Tableau, No. 1, Sketches of Aboriginal Life" for $50, which is a book about early Native Americans. Check out this bookstore in person to see what other books about Native Americans it has to offer.
Related: Best Indie Bookshops Around Detroit

North American Indian Association of Detroit 
22720 Plymouth Road
Detroit, MI 48239
(313) 535-2966

The North American Indian Association of Detroit has a library in its basement in which it houses books that focus on Native American history. Most of its reading materials have generously been donated to the organization. There is an internet-ready computer to help with any research as well as a few DVDs and VHS tapes that its patrons are able to borrow. Book topics range from genealogy to fiction to plants, maps, medicine and crafts. The library also has research materials available if needed. 

Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave. 
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-1805

*Currently closed for renovations until November 23, 2012

The Detroit Historical Museum has been closed since May 2012 for renovations but its grand re-opening will be November 23rd. Meanwhile, you can still view some of its Native American collection on the website. The Detroit Historical Society maintains the museum and it is the only museum that focuses on Detroit's history. The museum has six signature exhibits, ranging from America's Motor City to the Allesee Gallery of Culture, and it is currently working on installing new galleries than span over three centuries of Detroit's history.

Liz Parker is a freelance writer and a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Her work can be found at

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