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Monument Valley   |  Rosie Serago

Native Nations in Utah

Utah is home to approximately 60,000 Native Americans, representing more than 50 Tribal Nations, with eight being federally-recognized. These Tribes are Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, Confederated Tribes of Goshute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and Navajo Nation.

Each has their own contemporary traditions, festivals and lifestyles, as well as a unique heritage that can be found among the state's many dwelling sites, petroglyph and pictograph panels and museum exhibits. Today, these people continue to live on the lands of their ancestors, and invite visitors who visit with respect.

Whose Native Land Am I On? Get to Know the Tribes

Visit With Respect

Utah is filled with a variety of different state and federal land designations, all of which share a connection with Native Nations. Whether you're on Tribal lands, in a national park or anywhere outdoors in Utah, it's important to understand that there are strong Native ties, present and past, to these lands, even if it doesn’t fit in an official category. While many Nations welcome visitors for activities and events, each comes with its own set of regulations and etiquette. Do research to understand your destination and the customs of the people who live there. However, some general guidelines on visiting Native lands, reservations and sites include: 

  • Avoid taking pictures of people or events unless you have permission. Remember, this is where people live and work.
  • Act respectfully at all times, but particularly at important sites and burial grounds.
  • Do not touch or remove pottery or other artifacts you may find — this is a violation of federal law. (Watch: Voices of Bears Ears — The Archaeologists)
  • You are a guest on the reservation and allowed on site with the permission. Act accordingly.
  • Bears Ears National Monument Day Hiking passes are required year-round for in the Bears Ears National Monument, visit recreation.gov to obtain a pass.
  • Follow all travel guidelines related to COVID-19. Check for updates on Utah’s best travel practices before your trip.

Utah's eight federally-recognized Tribal Nations.

Top Experiences by Region

Northern Utah

Federally-recognized Tribes: Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation (Washakie Reservation), Confederated Tribes of Goshute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation

Home to the Fremont peoples from approximately 300 Common Era (CE) to 1300 CE, Northern Utah is known in more recent history for three primary Nations. In the most northern part of the state, you’ll find the Shoshone, who have traditionally lived in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. Their name translates as “high-growing grasses,” and they were traditionally hunter-gatherers who relied on bison as their primary sustenance. 

The Goshute people live in the desert landscape in western Utah and eastern Nevada. The harsh environment meant that they remained largely isolated until settlement by white people in the mid-19th century. 

The largest group is the Ute people, with ancestral lands east of the Great Salt Lake and into Colorado. The Uintah and Ouray Reservation, about 150 miles east of Salt Lake City, is the second-largest reservation in the country, at 4.5 million acres. The Nation currently has a membership of more than 2,000, with about half of the members living on the reservation.

Nine Mile Canyon

Photo: Dean Krakel

Al Groves, a Northern Ute and Hopi Beadwork and Quillwork Artist

Photo: Samuel Jake, Navajo/Diné

Top Places to Visit

Annual Events

  • Living Traditions Festival | Salt Lake City | May
  • Heber Valley Pow Wow | Soldier Hollow | June
  • Northern Ute Pow Wow | Fort Duchesne | July
  • Native American Festival and Pow Wow | West Valley City | August
  • Native American Pow Wow | Tooele | September

Top Experiences

  • Tour the Native American Village, directed by Navajo Meredith Lam at Salt Lake City's This is the Place Heritage State Park.  
  • In Salt Lake City, check out the Native Voices exhibit that explores Native American art and culture at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
  • In Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park, see both artifacts and contemporary Native American art at the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art.
  • Take a drive on Nine Mile Canyon Road (about 10 miles southeast of Price and a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City) and stop to see the displays of Fremont petroglyphs along the way.

Naakaii Tsosie, Navajo/Diné

Photo: Samuel Jake, Navajo/Diné

Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum

Mari Tsosie, Navajo/Diné

Photo: Samuel Jake, Navajo/Diné

Southeastern Utah

Federally-recognized Tribes: Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe
 
Once inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans, Southeastern Utah is now home to the Southern Utes, including the White Mesa Utes, and the Diné people, commonly known as Navajos. Diné Bikéyah or Navajoland, covers more than 27,000 square miles in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, the largest Indian reservation in the country. While they have a history as hunter/gatherers, they also developed farming techniques.

Mari Tsosie, Navajo/Diné

Photo: Samuel Jake, Navajo/Diné

Top Places to Visit

Annual Events

  • Annual Pioneer Celebration | Monument Valley | August
  • Bear Dance: Traditional Hand and Stick Games | White Mesa | September
  • Bear Dance | Bluff | Labor Day
  • Navajo Fair and Rodeo | Bluff | September

Top Experiences

  • Tour Monument Valley with a Native guide (look up Airbnb experiences or offerings at Goulding’s, which offers exclusive tours of the area).
  • Visit House on Fire during sunrise or sunset to get iconic photos of this well-preserved site in Mule Canyon outside of Blanding.
  • Go inside a reconstructed kiva at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding to get a glimpse into the ancient life of Ancestral Puebloan lifestyle and architecture, as well as a large collection of pottery and artifacts.
  • Head to Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff to learn how to respectfully visit the Bears Ears National Monument, one of the largest archeological sites in the world. 
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Spanning high-elevation peaks, wild plateaus, deep canyons and towering sandstone, Bears Ears National Monument is at the heart of southeastern Utah. These lands are imbued with layers of culture.

Photo: Barry Gutierrez

Southwestern Utah

Federally-recognized Tribes: Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
 
Once inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans and the Fremont, Southwestern Utah is primarily home to the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe and the Paiute Indian Tribe of of Utah, a confederation of five Bands: Cedar, Indian Peaks, Kanosh, Koosharem and Shivwits. The Paiute were traditionally a nomadic people who covered more than 30 million acres in the western United States. Those settling in Southwestern Utah lived primarily in family groups, gathering occasionally for trade and commerce.

The Virgin River flows through Zion National Park.

Photo: Angie Payne

Top Places to Visit

Annual Events

  • Paiute Restoration Days Pow Wow | Cedar City | June
  • Western Legends Heritage & Music Festival | Kanab  | August
  • Cedar Band of Paiutes Thanksgiving Pow Wow | Cedar City | November

Top Experiences

  • Hike at Parowan Gap to see the impressive collection of petroglyphs, most likely made by the Fremont, just outside of Cedar City.
  • Enjoy an afternoon at Navajo Lake, east of Cedar City, which was known to the Paiute Indians as Pa-cu-ay, which means “cloud lake.” Boating, fishing, swimming, and mountain biking are all popular here now.
  • Take a drive on scenic Johnson Canyon Road, outside of Kanab, where you can see several petroglyph sites.
  • Go off-roading on the 245-mile Paiute ATV Trail in the Fishlake National Forest and explore upwards of 900 miles of spur trails you will find off the main loop.

Native-Owned Guide Companies and Outfitters

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    3 Days

    Bears Ears Area Starter Kit

    A pair of distinctive, towering buttes stand against beautiful scenery. We call them "Bears Ears." With the help of local expertise, respectfully explore ancestral cliff dwellings and massive natural bridges in a fascinating desert ecosystem.

    History and Heritage, Scenic Drives/Road Trips, Solitude, Community, Native American, Hiking

    See Itinerary

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    5 Days

    Native Spirit

    Countless generations of Native Americans have called the landscapes of Utah home, from the hunter-gatherers of the prehistoric era to the more than 50 Native Nations currently in Utah.

    Arts, Hiking, History and Heritage, Native American, Scenic Drives/Road Trips

    See Itinerary

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    6 Days

    Phoenix to Monument Valley: Exploring Utah's Historic Sites

    Share the same reverence for the landscape as the first pre-historic inhabitants and the modern-day Native Nations as you embark on this six-day road trip to the Monument Valley Region.

    Hiking, History and Heritage, Native American, Scenic Drives/Road Trips

    See Itinerary

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