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8 Native American Landmarks of Northern California
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8 Native American Landmarks of Northern California

Let’s explore the Native American landmarks of Northern California along with their rich historical and cultural significance in the region.

Palig Dzadourian

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4 min read

August 27, 2022

As shown in the Golden State’s history, a plethora of different cultures have always lived within these lands. Records show over 500 tribes once thrived in California alone, and each one of these tribes possessed its own way of life, traditions, and culture. Remnants of their lives are dotted all across the country, some in the form of Native American sites in Northern California.

A great way to honor and educate ourselves on these tribes who valued and understood the wonder of the wilderness is to visit these sites. While it can be a little confusing where to start from, here are some of the noteworthy sites to visit in NorCal. 

1. Mount Diablo 

Visiting Mount Diablo is an enchanting and grounding experience.

Sacred to Valley Native Americans and others around the area, Mount Diablo is definitely one of the most breathtaking Native American sites to see. This sacred site is considered to be the birthplace of the world by some tribes. This mountain is seen by many as no more than a place for outdoor recreational activities like hiking and climbing. But to the Native Americans of the region, it was a place of great significance. So next time you find yourself near this amazing place, why not look upon it from a different perspective? 

2. Mount Shasta

Going mountain climbing is one of the most humbling trips one can go on.

Continuing on with the exploration of Native California is Mount Shasta. The highest peak of the Shasta-Trinity Forest towering a great 14 179 feet over the area held great significance among many tribes, long before the settlers arrived. As a key figure in the mythologies and ceremonies of many cultures, this sacred Native American site is more than a breathtaking mountain getaway.

3. Ahjumawi Lava Springs

Ahjumawi Lava Springs is one of the many Native American historical sites found throughout the Golden State. Getting to this park is quite an adventure, as the only way to reach it is by boat – no public roads will lead you to this beautiful place. Ahjumawi means “where the waters come together,” a name given by the Pit River Native Americans who have lived in the area for thousands of years.

Within the park are preserved lava flows broken by deep cracks, lava tubes, and craters. The springs here are one of the largest spring water systems in the country.

4. Patrick’s Point

Located in the heart of California’s coast redwood country, Patrick’s Point State Park is more than just a Native American tourist attraction. This park’s mission is to recreate and preserve the Native American history of Northern California. There is a recreated village that serves as a place for tribe members to continue their traditions. Patrick’s Point is mentioned in Yurok stories and songs quite often. It is celebrated as the last abode of the immortals.

Visit this stunning park to get a taste of Northern California’s beauty, the densely packed forests, and to honor and recognize Native California’s past.

5. Medicine Lake

Hidden within the Modoc National Forest lies Medicine Lake full of historical significance.

The Medicine Lake in Modoc National Forest, one of the most beautiful forests of NorCal, was formed 100,000 years ago with a volcanic eruption. This lake holds great significance among the Pit River, Modoc, Klamath, Shasta, and many more tribes. Some believe that this lake is a sacred land, and use it as a place for ceremonial purposes like prayer and vision quests. Additionally, it was a sanctuary for members of the tribe to lay down their weapons and cleanse themselves with the water of the lake.

In a place where this way of living was maintained for a good 10,000 years, it becomes important to keep it in our minds and recognize the existence of these tribes, especially in today’s modern world.

6. Clear Lake State Park 

Clear Lake holds a piece of Native American history and sure is worth the trip.

Signs led scientists to believe that Clear Lake is the oldest lake in Northern California. It is also one of the best lakes in California to visit. This area used to be home to the Pomos tribe, who benefited from the abundance of water and food sources around the lake. The only animal that was not hunted down, however, was the Bald Eagle, which continues to live there to this day. There are six Pomo tribes left that reside in Lake County.

Clear Lake State Park has now become a popular destination for lake camping getaways, with countless water-related activities and scenic views to enjoy. Clear Lake is among the Native American sites in Northern California that you should definitely visit.

7. State Indian Museum

Native American culture is full of beautiful and wondrous crafts.

Opened in 1940, the State Indian Museum located in Sacramento interprets diverse indigenous cultures of California. There are three major themes that are depicted in this Museum: Nature, Spirit, and Family. Any and all exhibits featured here are presented with respect, to honor the past of lives now gone, lives that walked on these lands before us.

Many of the photographs have been gifted by families of Native Americans, of either fellow family members or even friends.

Some of the cultural items featured in the Museum are traditional baskets, a redwood dugout canoe, ceremonial regalia, and hunting and fishing tools that are more than 24,000 years old!

8. Wassama Round House State Historic Park 

A vital part of the Miwok People’s culture that was almost destroyed, Wassama Round House State Historic Park is definitely where you should head when looking for Native American places to visit near me. Located near Oakhurst, this native American historic site is still used as a ceremonial meeting place. It is preserved and managed by California State Parks.

Visit the Wassama Round House State Historic Park to experience the lands upon which the Southern Sierra Miwok people lived for 8,000 years. There are special events held at this site, which include the Annual Gathering Day on the third of October. There will be cultural demonstrations by local Native Americans for participants to witness, contemporary arts and crafts for sale, and traditional Miwok dances.

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