Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sacagawea meets Lewis & Clark

Today Laurence called and needed me to take some things out to the mine. While I was out I decided to take a little road trip to the Knife River Indian Villages. This is about 12 miles from Hazen; the town we're staying in. It was a fun diversion.
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.
If you follow the trail there is a little walk of about 1 1/2 miles to the banks of the Missouri. The river is pretty low right now, but it had lots of ducks etc. I can't believe that I've never taken the time to make this little trek when I've come with Laurence before......


  1. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your pictures. We visited the Knife River villages last summer. I thought this was a great site. It was easy to imagine the vibrant community that once lived here. The river itself is gorgeous and peaceful.

    Have you had the chance to visit the Fort Clark site or the Lewis & Clark Center in Washburn, with its Fort Mandan replica? It makes for a very enlightening and satisfying day.

  2. Looks like you are having a fun trip! What a cool site to visit!

  3. This is Melinda, John's wife and I am going on a Lewis and Clark canoe trip this summer so I especially liked your pictures. I just finished reading Stephen Ambrose's book "Corp of Discovery" about the expedition. So anyway, thanks.


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