Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

14.6 Visiting a Museum or Native American Cultural Center


14.6: Visiting a Museum or Native American Cultural Center

Take your clubs‘ kids to a museum, Native American cultural center, or college archaeology department. Here, kids can see actual tools, artwork, and other artifacts crafted from rocks and minerals and other natural materials. By calling in advance to make arrangements, you may be able to have knowledgeable experts guide your group and—in museums and archaeology departments—perhaps even give a peak at research collections in back rooms not normally open to the public. Surf the web or check with your town‘s visitor center or chamber of commerce to explore possibilities, then call to see what sorts of collections are in your area and what arrangements might be made. For instance, spending less than two hours surfing the web on my computer this morning, I found the following that offer good possibilities for either brief morning or afternoon adventures or day trips within easy access of my hometown of Ventura, California, which for centuries has been inhabited by Chumash tribes.

For a brief morning or afternoon trip:

The Museum of Ventura County, located in the heart of downtown, has exhibits of early Chumash culture from the time when Ventura was a village called Shisholop.

The Albinger Archaeological Museum, located across the street from the Museum of Ventura County, displays Native American stone relics from 1600 to 100 BC.

The Robert J. Largomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park includes artifacts and publications about seafaring Chumash from our offshore islands.

Our local community college, Ventura College, offers courses on archaeology and has knowledgeable experts who would be worth calling to see if they might meet with a group of kids and/or offer advice about other area resources.

For a longer day trip still within easy driving distance of Ventura:

Chumash Painted Caves State Historic Park, near the San Marcos Pass above Santa Barbara, preserves fine examples of pictographs in a rock shelter.

More pictographs can be viewed along trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which even offers third and fourth graders a program on the Chumash in their Satwiwa Native American Cultural Center.

Oakbrook Regional Park Chumash Interpretive Center to my south provides an artifact exhibit, a rock art exhibit, and ongoing events and activities.

Both the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County offer great Native American displays.

The Anthropology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, holds the Repository for Archaeological & Ethnographic Collections.

UCLA has several relevant programs—an Anthropology Department, American Indian Studies Center, and an Institute of Archaeology—as well as their Fowler Museum of Cultural History with artifacts from native cultures worldwide.

Check your community for similar opportunities for an adventure with your club‘s kids!

Note: This activity can be used to satisfy requirements toward earning the Field Trip badge simultaneously (Activity 8.3).