Best Ways to Celebrate Native American History and Culture in Cleveland

November 12, 2012 8:00 AM


The history of North American culture begins with the natives. Their presence in the Cuyahoga River valley goes back thousands of years and is still felt to this day. November is National Native American History Month, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate in the greater Cleveland area. Consider these options as you seek to honor the memory of those who were here long before European settlers arrived on America’s shores.

whittlesey Best Ways to Celebrate Native American History and Culture in Cleveland

(credit: Cleveland State University Library)

The Early History of Cleveland

Cleveland Memory Project
2121 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 687-6998

Charles Whittlesey was a geologist by trade whose side interests included law, archaeology and history. In 1867, he published a book entitled “The Early History of Cleveland.” This was a landmark work that included everything from geological information of the Cleveland area to journal entries from early surveyors of the Western Reserve and a history of the Native Americans who first inhabited the land. The entire project may be viewed online at the Cleveland Memory Project.

moses1 Best Ways to Celebrate Native American History and Culture in Cleveland


Cleveland Museum of Natural History

1 Wade Oval Drive
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 231-4600

Price: $10 adults 19 and older/$8 youths ages 7 to 18/$8 seniors 60 and older/$7 children ages 3 to 6/free toddlers 2 and younger

The earliest inhabitants of the Western Reserve are unknown other than the artifacts they left behind. For this reason the Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers an archaeological history of northeast Ohio, which attempts to interpret those remains to the common reader. Not even Moses Cleveland, when he landed on the shores of the Cuyahoga River in 1796, knew about these people. Now, thanks to the findings of archaeologists, you may explore the unearthed treasures of this pre-contact Paleoamerican people whose disappearance from the stage of history is believed to have occurred some 10,000 years ago.

Related: Best Museums in Cleveland

Native American Children’s Alliance

P.O. Box 18288
Cleveland, OH 44118
(216) 373-6862

The Native American Children’s Alliance exists to protect the children of Native American and Alaskan communities from physical, sexual, psychological and spiritual abuse. A recognized chapter of the National Children’s Alliance since 2001, NACA has been working since 1999 to develop awareness and improve the response of Native American community leaders and families to the needs of children who have been victims in particular of sexual abuse. This work is carried on mainly through the organization’s help in growing Children’s Advocacy Centers and Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Indian Country who stand for the interests of the children. Lend your support to this worthy goal for a Native American month to be proud of.

Related: Best Art Museums in Cleveland

Indian Museum of Lake County

P.O. Box 883
Willoughby, OH 44096
(440) 951-3813

Click here for membership options.

Various remains of early Native American culture may be found scattered all throughout northeast Ohio. The Indian Museum of Lake County, Ohio was established to discover, collect and preserve these remains. Founded by the Lake County Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Ohio in 1980, this establishment is funded entirely through memberships and private donations and runs on the volunteer labor of 14 individuals who keep the museum open seven days a week except on major holidays. Their goal is to extend the knowledge of Native American history and culture by means of educational meetings, publications and operation of the museum itself. Take advantage of a great opportunity to become a member or donate to this organization.

The North American Indian

Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 E. Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 421-7350

Price: free

Cleveland Museum of Art offers numerous ways to learn about Native American history. In particular you will want to check out its gallery showcasing Edward S. Curtis’ “The North American Indian.” Curtis was something of an adventurer whose outings among various Indian reservations and general boredom with conventional photography led him to create this project, featuring 20 large picture portfolios with accompanying leather-bound text volumes between the years 1907 and 1930. At the time, these portfolios were available by subscription and valued at $3,000. Viewers are sure to gain a sense of appreciation for the Native American people through this monumental work.

Joshua Lawson is a husband to Sarah and a father to Joshua, Hope, and Allison. Once upon a time he was a halfway decent basketball player, but his dream since becoming a father has gone from playing in the NBA to one day getting a full night’s sleep again. Joshua lives in Portsmouth, OH. His work can be found at

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