Historian Wallace Stegner characterized America’s National Park system as “the best idea we ever had.” One can quibble with that, but, indeed, it was a pretty good idea! This book specifically is a guide and a celebration of 30 of those national parks, national historical parks, and national monuments that, each in its own way, reveals the histories and cultures of America’s first inhabitants, the Native Americans.
Its pages will take you to:
All of these sites have in common the fact that, at the insistence of Native and non-Native people, men and women, the federal government of the United States set them aside as places to preserve, study, and revere as part of the American story no matter where your ancestors came from, how they got here, or how long ago. Read this book and visit the historically sacred sites enshrined in our national parks, national historical parks, and national monuments, places that reveal the creativity and genius of the Native People of North America.
With 180 color photographs and complete visitor information, this is a wonderful guide to Native American archaeology in our national parks and monuments.
Kenneth L. Feder is professor emeritus at Central Connecticut State University and has directed numerous field research projects focusing on ancient settlements of the Native People of southern New England. He has appeared on television documentaries on the National Geographic Channel, the BBC, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the SyFy Channel. Additionally, he has been featured in a couple of episodes of William Shatner’s the Canadian- based show Weird or What? He lives in Winchester, CT.
Part I: Parks and People
Chapter 1: National Parks and National Monuments: Our “best idea.”
Chapter 2: History and Cultures of the First Peoples of America
Part II: Oh the Places You’ll Go
American Southwest, Villages Before European Contact
1. Canyon de Chelley National Monument, Arizona
2. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona
3. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
4. Navajo National Monument, Arizona
5. Tonto National Monument, Arizona
6. Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona
7. Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona
8. Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
9. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado
10. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
11. Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico
12. Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
13. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
14. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico
15. Hovenweep National Monument, Utah and Colorado
First Peoples Rock Art
16. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
17. Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
18. Bears Ears National Monument, Utah
19. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
20. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
21. Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado
Mound Builders of the East
22. Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, Georgia
23. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa
24. Poverty Point National Monument, Louisiana
25. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ohio
Raw Material Procurement Sites
26. Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota
Villages After European Contact, the Southwest
27. Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico
28. Salinas Pueblo National Monument, New Mexico
Villages After European Contact, the American Plains and Northwest
29. Knife River Indian Villages National Historical Park, North Dakota
30. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
This is both a site guide and primer on the cultures of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. Enthusiastic archaeologist /anthropologist Feder (Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology) provides practical details about access (driving directions, trail length, elevation, accessibility), along with the author’s opinionated trail tips, which are particularly helpful and demonstrate firsthand knowledge of each site and his sense of humor. Plenty of primary-source images and quotes, alongside photographs by Feder, provide rich context for each site. Includes a brief history of the U.S. National Park Service, glossary, references, and index. Overall, this is an engaging, chatty guidebook with well-cited, nuanced explanations of North American Indigenous histories; Feder inspires respect and wonder for these sites without being didactic. This guide will appeal to both first-time and frequent visitors seeking a deeper understanding of these national parks and monuments. Particularly useful when visiting the Southwestern United States, as 23 of the 30 sites are located in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, or Colorado.
Ken Feder’s guide to the U.S. National Parks most closely associated with our Indigenous heritage is wonderfully accessible and darn near essential. I’ve been to many of these sites, but after reading Feder’s insightful descriptions of these magical places and their histories, I feel like I missed a lot and need to go back again. When I do, I’ll have his book close at hand.
I’ve been a fan of Ken Feder’s work since I was an undergraduate reading Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries. And as before, his focus on the human aspects of famous places, and explicit centering of the histories and lives of Native Peoples in those places today, holds true to the spirit of modern archaeology and collaborative cultural heritage work. As such, this is a wonderful guidebook for anyone wanting to share the importance of that history with their friends and family, and to plan their next great road trip across America!
Dr. Feder is the author of the very first archaeological textbook I read in school. For years, I’ve wanted to visit archaeological sites with him to learn their fascinating histories from a world-class expert. This book makes it possible. Written with authority, respect, sensitivity, and wit, this book gives a comprehensive introduction to some of the most important cultural and historical sites across what is today the United States. This is THE book that anyone with a serious interest in the past needs to read!
9/15/22, Booklist: This book was highlighted in a fall travel guide feature.