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view of prairie with Lake Michigan and Calumet City in the background


The Calumet Region

From Chicago’s Pullman National Monument to the Indiana Dunes National Park, the Calumet region is a unique American place. Rich in nature, industry, and culture, this landscape showcases how heavy manufacturing made dramatic changes to a biodiverse natural world, where immigration transformed community identity, and where activist roots formed world-renowned ecology, social justice, and labor movements.

Native Americans have called this region home for over 12,000 years. By the 1870s, with the arrival of large numbers of non-Native settlers and the forced removal of the vast majority of Native Americans, the way was cleared for the subsequent rise of heavy industry, mass im/migration, and dramatic changes to the landscape. Through it all, Native Americans remained as participants in the region’s story. Today they persevere in strengthening ties to their homeland and reintroducing traditional relationships to the land, with a focus on food resources such as wild rice, and nurturing the land and its productivity.

A Region Forged by Nature, Industry, and Culture

Three interwoven themes reveal what is special about the Calumet region:

These themes are tied both to specific places on the landscape and to material objects and specimens displayed in the Calumet Voices, National Stories exhibition series. They illustrate experiences and stories that make this place like no other.

Train going into a bridge over the river with a small boat approaching underneath

The Calumet Heritage Area: Connecting the Region

Aerial image of the Calumet area with circle showing different buildings, parks, and bridges

The Calumet Heritage Area network connects and showcases the vast array of nature sites, museums, trails, tourism gateways, open spaces, Native American initiatives, and historical sites that span the region and embody its stories. Working in partnership with local and regional organizations, the Calumet Heritage Area draws visitors to the region, and connects the residents to the natural and cultural heritage outside their doorsteps. Through projects and programs, heritage area partners provide pathways to connect the region's vibrant past to shape its dynamic present and envision a sustainable future. Visit to learn more about the Calumet Heritage Area.

Working Toward a National Designation

The Calumet is a region whose remarkable story has not yet been told on the national stage. Community partners are advocating for the Calumet Heritage Area to become the Calumet National Heritage Area. Currently, there are 55 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) throughout the U.S. 

National Heritage Areas are lived-in landscapes designated by Congress in recognition of nationally important natural, cultural, historic, and recreational heritage resources. The NHA program is coordinated by the National Park Service to shine a spotlight on local places that tell nationally important stories; but each NHA is a unique product of local grassroots effort. Learn more about NHAs at

Map of the proposed Calumet National Heritage Area and established National Heritage Areas
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