As the snow begins to melt across the Great Plains, the desert temperatures reach above the 80s, and the skies turn brighter from coast to coast, we embrace spring and know that summer will be here in no time. Across Indian country in North America, this season means Native travel.
We all know that all land in North America is indigenous land, but unfortunately, Native stories and aboriginal information are often left off mainstream travel and tourism guides, maps and digital resources. We also know that there are pockets of the tourism industry that continue to appropriate Native culture and misinform the public on our true history and culture. Fortunately, lots of people and programs are working hard to get the right information out there. We now have access to dozens of apps and websites with real Native travel information, and the list continues to grow.
Whether you will be hitting the road to visit family, to follow the powwow trail, or simply to see some sights, you can use this list of indigenous-oriented travel apps and tourism websites to make your trip easier, more interesting, and more fun.
The following Native American and First Nations travel apps and websites list is organized categorically. Websites will contain a hyperlink in the title; apps will be listed in italics.
General Native Travel
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association—Working with all tribes in the United States, AIANTA is the voice and resource for promoting authentic cultural/tribal tourism. Visit their website for information on partnerships, events, and sightseeing ideas.
Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada —Working on behalf of all First Nations in Canada, the ATAC supports growth of authentic aboriginal tourism. Visit their website for events and information on authentic aboriginal cultural tourism.
Native America Travel—An offshoot of AIANTA, this website is organized by region to help you explore America from an indigenous perspective on culture, landscape and history.
Native Travel Maps
Tribal Nations Maps—Developed by Cherokee mapmaker Aaron Carapella from Oklahoma, Tribal Nations Maps allow the viewer to see Turtle Island according to tribal nations and indigenous language groups as opposed to states, provinces, and other westernized geographical designations.
Aboriginal Mapping Network—AMN provides a massive database of many different types of aboriginal and Native American geospatial entities. The site is constantly updated through a public forum, and will help you find your way around the continent with a pre-Canadian and pre-American yet futuristic and contemporary mindset of re-prioritizing indigenous people in our geographical interpretations of our world.
Native Land—Another resource designed by a self-described “settler” in Canada to assist the public in learning more about their own location and history through a decidedly anti-colonial cartographic perspective.
Stories & History Lessons
History for Kids - Incas, Aztecs, Mayas and More—Through games and digital adventures, this “history for kids” app is a fun and educational way to keep kids ages 4+ occupied in the car. The app focuses on histories and cultures of indigenous people from all around the globe, including First Nations and Indigenous Peoples of North America; the Inca Empire; Maya civilization; the Aztec; and more.
Ringbalin River Stories—This app focuses on river stories as told by elders from indigenous Australian nations. While the stories come from the other side of the globe, they are accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Guided Tours, Digital Journeys, Museum Companions, & More
First Story Toronto—A blog that shares and highlights the aboriginal history and culture of one of Canada’s largest cities.
American Indians and Route 66—Developed by the AIANTA, this website provides maps, routes, and informational guides to the Native history and culture that follows America’s most famous highway.
Infinity of Nations—This app is a mobile guide to the Infinity of Nations exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Organized by geographical region, the app provides a deeper dive into the vast collection of art and cultural objects on view from tribal nations across the Americas at the NMAI.
Cahokia Mounds Site Tours—Cahokia was once one of the largest cities in the world, located in what is now known as southern Illinois. Today, you can visit Cahokia’s remains and learn about this once-thriving indigenous urban center. Produced by the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society with input from noted archaeologists and tribal leaders, this app serves as a Native travel guide and virtual trip through the mounds.
Indigenous San Diego—This app provides information on tribal museums, tribally-owned businesses, cultural landmarks, and more to highlight the indigenous presence in San Diego, California.
Plants of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—There are many unique plants to be found in Hawaii. This app provides identifying photos and descriptions of the plants at the Volcanoes National Park, including scientific names, indigenous Hawaiian names, significance in Hawaiian culture, cultural/medicinal uses, and more.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre—This app will serve as your mobile-digital companion during your visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. It includes information on everything you may need regarding history, exhibits, events, and more.
Imesh Indigenous Art Walk—Developed by the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Studies at Simon Fraser University, the app is described as “a step toward decolonizing the university and the surrounding landscape.” The goal of the Imesh app (“Imesh” means “to walk” in Squamish language) is to “communicate through experience,” creating a stronger awareness of indigenous art on campus as well as to provide information about the Coast Salish territories in the area.
Babaamosedaa - Let’s Go for a Walk—Following characters “Ben and Jenii” on a walk through Winnipeg, Manitoba, this app allows users to take a digital indigenous language journey.
Sioux Lookout Community Museum—If you find yourself in Northwestern Ontario, be sure to download this app before you visit the Sioux Lookout Community Museum. The museum includes a massive collection of indigenous items from the area, and the app allows you to browse through select exhibits with additional information.