Hidden Gem - Museum of Native American History
If you haven't been to the Museum of Native American History, put it on your staycation, daytrip and places-to-see lists. This hidden gem is a win-win. First of all, the entry price is free, so even if you have little ones who want to rush right through and get to the good part where you dig for arrowheads, that's OK. You have nothing to lose.
Located just outside Downtown Bentonville, near where W Central Ave meets S Walton Blvd, the Museum of Native American History is a deceivingly small building you might recognize by its large teepee in the front. Once inside, you quickly realize it's a spacious collection of archaeological treasures. In fact, it's one of the most comprehensive collections of Native American artifacts in the South, with art and artifacts spanning over 14,000 years of American Indian history. The staff is incredibly friendly and eager to answer questions.
We asked the museum's director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale her thoughts on kids visiting the museum. This is what she said:
"History is IMAGINATION, and we encourage students to let the present fall away and imagine a time when a woolly mammoth was grazing right here on the museum's location, or a time when you could catch a glimpse of native hunters on this land in the not-so-distant past. Imagine hunting with bows and arrows, beading a beautiful dress, earning an eagle feather, or making a personal story out of clay. There are miracles afoot in nature, and we always hope the children, in their time of technology, leave the museum and find the balance in nature to be the next caretakers of the Earth."
Open the large wooden double doors at the entrance and you will be greeted by a real skeleton of an Ice Age Woolly Mammoth. From there, you can expect to see:
- Artistic effigy vessels
- Woven rugs
- Head pots
- Ceremonial headdresses
- Leather clothing
- Effigy pipes
- Winter counts calendars
You'll have the freedom to move through at your own pace. If you are able to take your time, take advantage of the audio wand which gives you an audio tour. The Museum rooms are laid out in chronological order and all the displays are clearly marked to match the audio wand selection. Or, if you're like me and you go with young kids in tow, you can walk through pointing out the most visually-stimulating artifacts - the elaborate headdresses, head-shaped pots and ancient children's toys. Once you reach the end, the staff welcomes kids to dig in the rocks out front in search of arrowheads. Each person gets to take one home - big hit!
The Museum of Native American History
202 SW 'O' Street
Bentonville, AR 72712