The Lead

5 places learn about indigenous people in Pa. this Native American Heritage Month

By: - November 26, 2021 6:30 am

The Google doodle for Nov. 1 is We:wa, a notable Zuni artist who lived in the latter half of the 1800s. (Photo courtesy of Google.)

No matter what region of Pennsylvania you call home, you’re never far from history, including the history of native peoples. 

While there are far more places to learn about Pennsylvania’s native peoples than are on this list, here are a handful of places across the commonwealth where history buffs can go to learn more about Pennsylvania’s first inhabitants this Native American Heritage Month.

  1. Museum of Indian Culture, Allentown, Pa.: Established in 1980 as a nonprofit educational resource center, the Museum of Indian Culture works collaboratively with native people, including the Delaware Nation,  to share the history of the native people who called Pennsylvania home
  2. Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Avella, Pa.: Located in Washington County, Meadowcroft Rockshelter is a 19,000-year-old  National Historic Landmark because of its status as the oldest site of human habitation in North America. The landmark has a recreation of a 16th century Monongahela village where visitors can learn about the agricultural practices, hunting tools and day-to-day life of the region’s native people. 
  3. Big and Little Indian Rock Petroglyphs, Conestoga, Pa.: Challenging to get to, but rewarding to see, Lancaster County’s petroglyphs, estimated to be 1,000 years old, were most likely created by the region’s Algonquin people and are only accessible by boat. The glyphs can be found on small islands in the lower part of the Susquehanna River, which, according to the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission, is home to “the highest concentration of petroglyphs in the Northeast,” with 10 sites and more than 1,000 carvings. Note: If you are feeling adventurous and make the journey to see the glyphs, be safe, and be careful not to harm or destroy the important historical and cultural landmarks.
  4. Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh, Pa.: With a focus on the 1700s, the Fort Pitt museum tells the story of western Pennsylvania and its people during the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars as well as the impact the growing presence colonial empires had on the lives of native people.
  5. Bushy Run Battlefield, Jeannette, Pa.: Located in Westmoreland County, Bushy Run Battlefield, is near the site of armed conflict during Pontiac’s War in the summer of 1763. The British victory at Bushy Run is considered by historians to be a pivotal movement in American history and is Pennsylvania’s only recognized Native American Battlefield site.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared. Follow her on Twitter: @Wordsby_CassieM.

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