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About the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission

Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission logo

A woman dressed in Native American garb demonstrates basket weaving.The Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission was established in 1996 (KRS 171.820-171.822) to recognize and promote Native American contributions and influence in Kentucky’s history and culture.  The commission has 17 members (the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary or designee, plus 16 appointed by the Governor), eight of whom are of Native American heritage.  The Commission also includes representatives from institutions of higher learning, archaeology, Native American arts and the public.

Our Vision

All Kentuckians will recognize, appreciate and understand the significant contributions Native Americans have made to Kentucky’s rich cultural heritage.  Through education and increased awareness, the people of Kentucky will understand the histories, cultures and matters of concern to Native American peoples.

Our Goals

  • To promote increased awareness of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission within state agencies
  • To promote the role and importance of Native American peoples to the history and development of the Commonwealth through teacher education, media relations, and public education
  • To develop and promote an accurate depiction of Native Americans through media relations, research, and educational programs
    To develop programs, events, and materials for and about Native American peoples
  • To serve as a clearinghouse for information for and about Native Americans in Kentucky
  • To develop and maintain partnerships between Native American peoples, agencies, and organizations in promoting the goals and objectives of the Commission
  • To promote conservation and preservation of the cultures, ideals, and artifacts of Native Americans in Kentucky
  • To promote existing and needed legislation to protect and promote the heritage of Native American peoples

Educational Initiatives

  • Native American Heritage Month Poster
  • Teaching About American Indians: Stereotypes and Contributions, a Resource Packet for Kentucky Teachers [PDF-2.8MB]
  • A Native Presence: A Companion Guide For Middle and Elementary School Teachers (Grades 4-8), for use with KET program, A Native Presence (co-funded by the Kentucky Archaeological Survey)
  • Native Americans: Who Are They Today? A Discipline-Based Unit in Social Studies for Grades 4-5 (co-funded by the Kentucky Department of Education)
  • Initiated planning for a Kentucky Native American Arts and Cultural Center

Sponsored Activities

  • Annual Living Archaeology Weekend at Red River Gorge, Gladie Cultural Environmental Center
Commission Members

Preservation or Archaeological Community
Dwight R. Cropper, South Portsmouth
David Pollack, Ph.D., Lexington

Arts Community
Susan Mullins, Berea

Citizens at Large
Helen Danser -
 Chair, Tyner
Angela M. Arnett, Waynesburg
Michael Dunn, Louisville
David Lee Fallis, Frankfort
Cynthia L. Isbell, Louisville
Rep. Reginald Meeks, Louisville
William St. Pierre, Villa Hills
Anne Wood, Lexington
Deanna Jessie, Olive Hill

Institutions of Higher Learning
John P. Bowes, Ph.D., Lexington
A. Gwynn Henderson, Ph.D., Lexington
Christopher A. Robinson, Richmond

Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Don Parkinson

Useful Links

Northern Kentucky University Native American Studies Program External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Kentucky Housing Corporation External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Community Ventures Corporation External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site / Kentucky State Parks External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site
94 Green Street, P.O. Box 155
Wickliffe, Ky. 42087

Students, teachers and Scouts can explore the excavated mounds, exhibits of Mississippian culture and displays of artifacts dating back to 1100 A.D. Activity stations in the museum provide hands-on experiences. A Teacher's Packet with pre-visit activities, background information and scavenger hunt activity sheets can be downloaded
A picnic shelter and chunkey game equipment (an interactive Mississippian Native American game) are available for teachers to use while at the park with their paid admission fees. Tours are teacher-led, self-guided and special guide sheets provided to group leaders.
Park is open March to November for school and scout groups and teachers should call to schedule a time for their classes to visit. Fees range from $2 to $5 per person (Teachers are free admission with their students). November is Native American Heritage Month and in recognition all school and scout group rates are $1 per person (self-guided tours only) for the month of November. Call 270-335-3681 for information or e-mail


The final 2017 meeting of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission will be at 1 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, Nov. 2 at Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main, Lexington. The meeting is open to the public
AGENDA [Word-17KB]

Related Content

Teaching About American Indians: Stereotypes and Contributionsa Resource Packet for Kentucky Teachers

"A Native History Of Kentucky" by A. Gwynn Henderson, Ph.D. and David Pollack, Ph.D., Selections from Chapter 17: Kentucky, in Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Daniel S. Murphree

Native Americans: Who Are They Today social studies lesson plan

Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission brochure 
[PDF-1.5 KB]

Teachers' Guide to Native American Literature

Facts about the theft of Indian Head Rock from Kentucky

Kentucky Before Boone Poster
[PDF - 830KB]



Last Updated 10/24/2017