of the Knife River Indian Villages (PDF)
This site was once home to several villages of Hidatsa and Mandan
Indians, with a population of 3,000 - 5,000 people. These villages are where Lewis
and Clark obtained the services of Sakakawea and her husband Charbonneau. Visible
remains of earthlodge dwellings,
cache pits, fortification ditches and travois trails are in
an extraordinarily fine state.
Museum has exhibits of Indian artifacts and crafts, an orientation film and a full-sized
Also, a 1 1/2 mile self-guided walking tour.
Hidatsa and Mandan Nation
Also known as the Minnetarees; in early history they were
called the Gros Ventres.
(Capt. Lewis' Journal Entry: ... a Mr. Chaubonie, interpeter for the Gros Ventre nation
came to see us... November 4th, 1804).
French fur traders called them "Big Bellies", because of a Indian sign language
gesture in the front of the abdomen, to indicate their custom of tattooing parallel
stripes across the chest.
Mandans - Living among the Hidatsa Nation. Cultivated a variety of
crops, including corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and tobacco.
October 31, 1804
"A second cheif arrived this morning with an invitation from the grand cheif of the
Mandans to come to his village...Captain Clarke walked down to his village; he was seated
with great ceremony on a robe by the side of the chief, who then threw over his shoulders
another robe handsomely ornamented..."