This site was once home to several villages of Hidatsa and Mandan Indians, with a population of 3,000 - 5,000 people. This site stands above the Missouri floodplain, on the site of what was the largest and most sophisticated village of the interrelated Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara tribes. 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.
A highlight of the park is an earth lodge, reconstructed using traditional materials. Measuring over 50 feet across, and 12 feet high at its central smoke hole, the earth lodge looks exactly as it would have when the likes of George Catlin and Karl Bodmer were welcomed by the villagers during the 1830s. Just north of the earth lodge spread circular depressions in the soil—which are all that remains of the Hidatsa community where, in 1804, the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery was joined by the French fur-trapper Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea.