October 10th marks Indigenous People’s Day — a time to reflect on and value all those who came before us. It’s also a time to show appreciation for those who continue to steward sacred lands in very special ways.
As adventurers and travelers, we experience the sheer beauty of places that were once wholly the territory of indigenous peoples. The hard truth is that national forests, national parks, and so much more were taken from people who rightly saw these spaces as sacred.
That’s why we wanted to equip you with some ways to support indigenous people while traveling. Giving back to the communities we explore is a vital part of the journey. Here are 5 ways you can support indigenous people while on the road.
1. Leave No Trace
The 7 principles of Leave No Trace include things like planning ahead and preparing, leaving behind what you find, and respecting wildlife.
When it comes to respecting indigenous peoples, it’s crucial that we first respect the native lands we visit. Leave No Trace is a simple yet powerful idea because it captures the essence of how people used to live — in harmony with the earth and our surroundings.
2. Know Where You Are
The Native Land App will show you which tribal nations currently or formerly lived in any location you put in. It’ll also provide links to the history of each indigenous community so you can learn more about their history, culture, and traditions.
Take the time to hop onto this app anywhere you park it so you can grow your appreciation for and understanding of those that came before you.
3. Respect Relics And Keep Distance
Petroglyphs, sacred lands, and historic pueblos abound in places like national parks. In fact, these 10 sacred sites are all on public lands around the U.S.
Before you travel, dig into the areas you want to explore and build your understanding of native lands and sites that might be there. It’s important to enjoy these spaces in the proper way, at the proper distance, and with a proper respect for their fragility.
4. Support Small Businesses
When you travel to areas populated by indigenous communities, it’s more important than ever to support local small businesses. Connect with the Chamber of Commerce in areas you plan to travel to/through to find indigenous-owned businesses operating there. Seek ways you can support those businesses with your purchases.
Areas near sacred sites often also feature restaurants that offer traditional cuisine served by the people who have been there before us. Take the time to check these places out and enjoy traditional flavors.
5. Explore Sacred Spaces
Places like Arches National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Indian Creek/Bears Ears (Utah), entire swaths of Arizona and New Mexico, and more feature places sacred to indigenous peoples.
You can show your support for Indigenous People’s Day and create an unforgettable family experience by planning trips to locations like these. But not just any trip — take this time to create a trip that is focused on the history and culture of the people who were in these areas before us.
Indigenous People’s Day is an especially important day for us travelers to recognize because we frequent many of the most historically important native sites. By practicing the methods above, we can travel with greater respect and understanding for the people who were here before us.