Posted by: Lori Reinhold
Many people travel to Sedona to experience the rich Native American culture of the region. Humans inhabited the Verde Valley as far back as 11,500 B.C. That means there is a lot to explore during your stay. Whether you come to visit awe-inspiring archaeological sites or stock up on some authentic turquoise jewellery, there are many different ways to experience the Native cultures of Arizona.
The Verde Valley was primarily inhabited by the Hopi, Sinagua, Yavapai, and Apache peoples. The Sinagua people first entered the Verde Valley around 650 B.C, bringing their traditions of pottery, basketry, and masonry along with them. The Sinagua people left the valley around 1,500 A.D, most likely to settle in other parts of Arizona and New Mexico. The Hopi people built their pueblos throughout the Southwest, predominately in Arizona. The Yavapai people arrived in the Verde Valley around 1,300 A.D. They were primarily nomadic hunter-gatherers. The Apaches are believed to have arrived in the region around 1,450 A.D. However, both the Yavapai and Apache people were forcibly removed from the area in 1876 and moved to the San Carlos Indian Reservation, 180 miles to the Southeast. They now reside in the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
Many tourists visit Sedona to explore the well-preserved rock dwellings and cave sites sprinkled through the region. Tuzigoot National Monument is an ancient Sinagua pueblo crowning a beautiful desert hilltop. Take the self-guided, ⅓-mile loop to explore the fascinating pueblo and soak in incredible views of the Verde River and Tavasci Marsh. The ancient pueblos at Wupatki National Monument dot the gorgeous red rock landscape, nestled between arid desert and dense ponderosa pine forests. The site offers ranger-led guided hikes of various lengths and levels of difficulty. In addition, Montezuma Castle is considered one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. People often liken Montezuma Castle to a 20-room high rise built into a towering limestone cliff. Even more impressive, it is still standing after nearly 800 years! The easy self-guided tour takes you past the 5-story cliff dwelling, through a lovely sycamore grove, and along Beaver Creek. If you have time, make sure to visit the Montezuma Well too.
Palatki Heritage Site is probably the most well-known and heavily visited Native American historical site in the area. Come to Palatki, and its sister site, Honanki, to learn about the history, art, and culture of the Hopi. Located in the Coconino National Forest, Palatki and Honanki are home to some of the largest cliff dwellings of the Red Rock country. If you are interested in the Hopi after seeing Palatki, considering paying a visit to Homolovi State Park. Here, archeologists work on-site to research Hopi migration from the 1200s to the late 1300s. “Homolovi” means the “Place of the Little Hills” in Hopi. There are museums, trails, picnic tables, and a campground within the park.
After learning about the rich culture and history of Arizona’s native peoples, you might want to bring some keepsakes home with you. Luckily, Sedona is home to many wonderful shops and markets dedicated to Native products. As always, we have to recommend Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a beloved community space and shopping venue dedicated to Mexican, Southwestern, and Native American art. You could spend all day browsing their shops filled with handcrafted jewellery, folk art, fine rugs, kitchenware, music boxes, and more.
Every visitor to the Alma de Sedona Inn should also visit the Kachina House, our long-time friend and neighbor. As Arizona’s largest distributor of Native American art, Kachina House works directly with Native artists to bring the best local and handcrafted items to their shelves. Here you can purchase original Kachina dolls as well as beautiful jewelry, pottery, baskets, artifacts, rugs, and more. Even better, all Alma de Sedona guests get a discount on their purchase! For more art and Native American goods, check out Hoel’s Indian Shop, open since 1945, and Clear Creek Trading, known for its finely curated merchandise and hard-to-find treasures.
Planning a trip to Sedona, Arizona? Book a stay at the Alma de Sedona Inn for warm service and unbeatable red rock views.