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7 Best Experiences in Indian Country That USA Today Missed

7 Best Experiences in Indian Country That USA Today Missed

USA Today asked its readers to vote for the best Native American experiences. Options included the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco; the National Museum of the American Indian in New York or D.C., and a laundry list of others. And although these are good options, we at ICTMN want to offer you some less-known alternatives that are equally worth your time. Try these seven on for size.

Thinkstock photo of a pow wow

1. The Pow Wow Trail

Let's pretend you live in ... L.A. Just do a quick Google search of 'pow wow Southern California' and see what pops up. If luck be on your side, a pow wow will be slated for the weekend. OK, now: keep searching for pow wows. Make a list of the ones you find. Maybe there's one in two weeks in Phoenix. There you go; you've got one in L.A., one in Phoenix - all the makings for a fantastic pow wow trail. Call some buds. Load up the car with food and water and snacks and good music. It's preferable if you have at least one person in the car who's geared to dance. Still, if you know anyone who's a dancer and if you've never been to a pow wow, call them up. Tell them you want to go on the trail with them. It's a helluva a time. One for the books. 

RELATED: USA Today Wants Your Vote on 10 Best Native American Experiences

Simon Moya-Smith

Tocabe Native American Eatery

2. Tocabe Native American Eatery

If you're in Denver, and if you've never had fry bread, Tocabe is a fine joint to rip through some deep fried dough. It's also a hub for Native American events in the Mile High City. Also, Tocabe provides fry bread at the annual Denver March Pow Wow. Sometimes the line will stretch to the door, but it's worth the wait. Get it with powdered sugar and honey and enjoy what is a considered a time-honored Native American dessert.

Photo courtesy

A Tribe Called Red

3. The 49

After you've had your fill of fry bread, dancing, drumming, jewelry, chasing your kids around the pow wow arena, whatever, it's time for the 49 - the after party. But it's not always made public where the 49 will be. You've got to keep your ears to the ground. It might be at an events center, a performance theatre, even at someone's house, but this is where you'll find folks with their hair down, reconnecting, meeting new people and maybe even out to do a little snagging (that is, finding a date).

4. The Indian Center in Your City (If There Is One)

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There are so many out there, but there isn't one in every city. Still, for example, there's the Denver Indian Center, the Southern California Indian Center, the American Indian Community House in New York City, and they are great places for anybody whose curious about what's going on in Indian country in their city. From pot lucks to pow wows to holiday parties, Indian centers are places where you'll find your local Native Americans reveling in their cultures.

Courtesy of SCIC Facebook

Southern California Indian Center

5. Hoka! Coffee

This one is a coffee company based on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. According to their website, Hoka! Coffee "provides jobs and economic growth for the Pine Ridge Reservation and its community." The company also purchases its beans "from indigenous smallholder farms who are guaranteed fair working conditions and a fair share for their product." If you won't make it to the Pine Ridge rez anytime soon, you can buy their coffee online and brew it at home. ... Maybe even support small business by purchasing in bulk for your company. Consider it.

Courtesy Facebook

Hoka! Coffee

6. Garden of the Gods

This one has a interesting story: Native American pow wows were banned from the Garden of the Gods in Colorado after rich locals complained of the loud drumming and flattened grass. As a result, pow wows were banned from the ancestral land of plains and mountain Indians. But, a few years ago, after a contentious discord between city officials and petitioners, the ban was lifted; pow wows were finally welcomed back. Garden of the Gods is a awe-striking marvel of mother nature, but go with your drum and walk freely on the grass as you enjoy the sights. Also, partake in the 5th Annual Garden of the Gods Powwow at Rock Ledge Ranch on Sept. 20 if you're in the area.

Garden of the Gods

7. Mitsitam

In Washington, D.C.? Want to try some indigenous cuisine? Then go to Mitsitam Cafe. According to its website, the word 'Mitsitam' means "Let's Eat!" in the Delaware and Piscataway languages. Gregg Deal, who's Pauite and lives in D.C., said you can experience indigenous dishes from up and down the continent. "It's sort of indigenous eating north and south," Deal said. "They've got a great buffalo chili there," he said. Go be a tourist, but then support local and dive head first into that chili bowl at Mitsitam. Cheers.

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