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HISTORY OF THE THREE AFFILIATED TRIBES
|In 1934, the year the Four Bears Memorial Bridge was constructed on the Fort Bethold Indian Reservation at Elbowoods, the U S Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. Two years later, a constitution was adopted. The Preamble read: "We the Arickara, Hidatsa and Mandan Indians of the Fort Berthold Reservation, in North Dakota, eagerly embrace the opportunity for self-rule... and establish this constitution for the Three Affiliated Tribes of this reservation. "Since this time, the three tribes have operated as on government, but each tribe has preserved its respective history and culture.|
|In 1933, construction of the
first Four Bears Bridge began and in preparation for the dedication of the
bridge, plaques were created bearing the names of the chiefs of each of the
tribes. The names of the Hidatsa (Gros Ventres) and Arikara Chiefs
were placed at the north entrance of the bridge and the Mandan Chiefs on the
When the bridge moved to the New Town area, the plaques were placed in positions inaccessible for people to view. As years passed and traffic increased, damage to the plaques resulted from large vehicles clipping them as they passed. A vandal shot holes and spray painted the plaques. In October 1997, the plaques were removed from the bridge and placed at the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum for safekeeping. A short biography of the chiefs listed on the Four Bears Memorial Bridge plaque follows:
BUFFALO COW (She-Oh-Manto-Ho)
Red Buffalo Cow was also called Red Roan Cow. He was the Head Chief of the Nuptadi Mandan in 1837. Red Buffalo Cow was a survivor of the smallpox epidemic. He was a signer of the 1866 Agreement at Fort Berthold. Red Buffalo Cow lived to see many winters and died in 1888.
CHARGING EAGLE (Bad Gun)
BLACK EAGLE (Mi-si-psi)
WATER CHIEF (Mi-ni-nu-wa-ksi)
|THE ARRIVAL OF
The Three Affiliated Tribes scattered throughout the reservation to lesser lands when a quarter of it was flooded to create Lake Sakakawea after construction of the Garrison Dam in 1954. A piece of the old reservation life was kept alive when the 1,425 foot long continuous through truss made spans of the first Four Bears Bridge were salvaged and reused as the main channel spans for the second Four Bears Bridge built over Lake Sakakawea.
|Construction on the second Four Bears Bridge began in
1951, and the reinforced concrete, substructure completed in October 1953.
On June 16, 1953, the first bridge closed and dismantling began. By
November, trucks transported the dismantled pieces to be strengthened and
re-erected as part of the nearly mile long bridge over Lake Sakakawea.
Near the location of the new bridge tribes developed New Town, which later
becomes the home of the Indian Agency. Completed by September 1955,
opening ceremonies were held October 1st - 3rd for the new Four Bears Bridge.
In the fall of 1943, the U S Army Corps of Engineers released its plan, known as the Pick Plan, to control Missouri River flooding by a series of main stem dams in North and South Dakota. The 2-mile long 210-foot high earthen Garrison Dam would be the first and largest of the five dams built between Fort Peck, Montana and Yankton, South Dakota.
The Bureau of Reclamation released its plan almost a year later in the spring of 1944, developed by W Glenn Sloan of the Billings office. This plan proposed to control flooding by constructing dams on tributaries, not the main stem. Later that year, the two federal agencies merged the two plans into the Pick-Sloan Plan, which kept most of the provisions of both plans. Congress approved the plan as part of the Flood Control Act of 1944.
Construction began on the Garrison Dam the following year, and it inundated almost 155,000 acres, or 25 percent, of the Fort Berthold Reservation. The area flooded has been the tribes' home for centuries and the basis of their culture and economy. These lands included fertile bottoms and bench lands, considered the best winter grazing lands in the state on which the tribes' agriculture and livestock enterprises depended. All of the people living within this portion of the reservation were forced to relocate the lesser lands throughout the remaining reservation land.
As only the fourth all weather crossing of the Missouri River in the state, the first Four Bears Bridge served as the last missing link on ND Highway 8, the major north-south route across the state. Some people even touted it as the gateway to the North Dakota Badlands.
|In response to severe floods on the lower Missouri River
in 1943, the U S Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation
developed a plan to control downriver flooding. Known as the Pick-Sloan
Plan, it called for five dams and reservoirs on the Missouri in the Dakotas.
The first and largest of the dams was Garrison Dam, 65 miles downstream from
here, begun in 1945 and completed in 1954.
The people most affected by the construction of Garrison Dam were the Three Affiliated Tribes. The land that was to be flooded had been their home for centuries and was the basis of the tribal culture and economy. Their bottom land was considered the best winter grazing land in the state. As the waters rose behind the dam starting in 1953, Elbowoods was abandoned, and more than 2000 people of the Three Affiliated Tribes moved to lesser lands on the reservation. White settlements such as Spanish and Van Hook were lost, and their residents were also relocated.
To replace the Missouri River bridges lost at Spanish and Elbowoods, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a nearly mile-long bridge at New Town between 1951 and 1955. The 1934 Elbowoods Four Bears Bridge was dismantled, moved in sections, and then re-erected as the through truss main spans of the new bridge. The approach spans were deck trusses that were the only example of that truss type in the state. The second Four Bears Bridge stood at this location for over 50 years. Due to its narrow roadway and deteriorated condition, it was replaced in 2005.
|The portals within this plaza are parts from the original
1934 Four Bears Bridge. It and the legacy of a historic and gentle people
are what remain from Elbowoods.
Few bridges in North Dakota or the Upper Missouri region represented as much history as did the Four Bears Bridge, which stood near here until 2005. It symbolized over 100 years of relations between native peoples and the federal government starting in 1851 when the Mandan, Hidatsa an Arikara tribes signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Fort Berthold Reservation was created on their ancestral lands along the banks of the Missouri River. Completion of the U S Army Corps of Engineers' Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea over 100 years later in 1954 resulted in the inundation of the reservation's bottom land and forced the relocation of entire communities. Elbowoods, the main town on the reservation located 40 miles downstream from here, was submerged beneath Lake Sakakawea, but the bridge completed there in 1934 was salvaged and reused as the main spans of the Corps' 1951 - 1955 bridge across the lake near New Town. Both bridges were named Four Bears after Chief Four Bears of the Hidatsa tribe and Chief Four Bears of the Mandan tribe.
|After campaigning by local people, the first Four Bears
Bridge was built across the Missouri River at Elbowoods in 1934. It was
only the third bridge over the river north of Bismarck, and it was the last link
on State Highway 8, a major north-south route. It improved the quality of
life on the reservation, now no longer divided by the river. The bridge
was designed by the North Dakota State Highway Department and built with 100
percent federal funds because it was located on the reservation.
The Four Bears Bridge at Elbowoods was an engineering achievement. Over 1,600 feet long, it was the first continuous steel through truss bridge in the state. At the request of the Three Affiliated Tribes, the state legislature officially named the bridge after the two Chief Four Bears. The tribes dedicated the bridge at a ceremony attended by 8,000 people, held June 14 to June17, 1934.
The 14-span, 4483 foot long bridge was composed of two deck girder floor beams spans, 9-deck truss spans, and a 3-span continuous through-truss. The deck girder spans were each 102 feet 6 inches in length, the deck truss spans were each 316 feet in length, and the through-truss section was 1425 feet in length. The 3- span continuous through-truss sections were originally the main channel section of the 4-span bridge at Elbowoods. The flooring system of both truss types was composed of rolled stringers with the difference being that there were four stringers supporting the deck on the through-truss spans, while the deck trusses had only one stringer at the center line of the roadway deck, which was reinforced concrete curbs. The built-up metal railings were placed inside the truss lines.
The new bridge had the same 20 foot roadway width of the 1934 bridge, not the 28 foot wide roadway width that the North Dakota Highway Department was using for its early 1950's river crossings. The vertical clearance at the portals remained approximately 15 feet, 7 inches.
The substructure consisted of reinforced concrete abutments and piers. Pier 2 through 12 (numbering from east to west) were reinforced concrete solid-shaft hammerhead piers. Piers 1 and 13 have individual footings with reinforced concrete web walls.
The design of the second Four Bears Bridge was done for the U S Army Corps of Engineers by Howard Needles Tammen & Bergendoff (HNTB) of Kansas City, Missouri, the General Contractor of the superstructure was the Manhattan Construction Company of Muskogee, Oklahoma, which sublet the steel erection and dismantling of the first Four Bears Bridge to John F Beasley Construction Company. Concrete bridge deck work was performed by the Maxwell Bridge Company of Columbus, Kansas. The substructure was built by Massman Construction Company and the Kansas City Bridge Company, both of Kansas City, Missouri.
|A RESERVATION DIVIDED
In response to flooding during the late winter of 1943, Congress directed the U S Army Corps of Engineers to devise a plan for flood control measurers for the Missouri River. The most controversial part of the plan included building five large, multi-purpose dams on the main stem of the Missouri River above Sioux City. The first and largest would be the Garrison Dam, 2-1/2 miles long and initially proposed to be 200 feet high. Congress approved the Garrison Dam project as part of the Flood Control Act of 1944 and President Franklin D Roosevelt signed the plan.
Construction of the Garrison Dam adversely affected the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation. The man-made partition flooded approximately one-quarter of their reservation and divided the tribes into five scattered segments. The water consumed the richest sheltered bottom-lands, which the Indians of the Three Affiliated Tribes' culture and economy relied on for survival.
The population of Elbowoods, once the largest community on the reservation with approximately 2,000 residents in the mid 1940's, dwindled to only 175 by 1950. Other towns affected by the dam were Sanish, Van Hook, Red Butte, Lucky Mound, Nishu, Beaver Creek, Independence, Shell Creek, and Charging Eagle. Inhabitants of the bottomlands lost their homes, a piece of their history and unwillingly relocated to lesser lands on the reservation
As work on the Garrison Dam proceeded during the early 1950's, an entirely new system of roads on and around what remained of the Fort Berthold Reservation needed to be constructed. To replace the first Four Bears Bridge and the Verendrye Bridge. The U S Army Corps of Engineers planned to construct a new bridge... 4,483 feet long crossing over the reservoir near Sanish and New Town.
|DISMANTLING AND REFORMING HISTORY
Two decades after completion of the first Four Bears Bridge, located near Elbowoods, it closed on June 16, 1953 and dismantling began. A piece of the old reservation life was kept alive when the 1,425 foot long continuous through truss main spans of the bridge were salvaged and reused as the main channel spans for the second Four Bears Bridge built over Lake Sakakawea. Dismantled in the traditional manner, the field rivets were removed and each one marked in accordance with the original 1933 erection diagrams.
The tribes held a "farewell to the valley" pow-wow in July 1953 after the bridge closed, and they completely evacuated Elbowoods and the surrounding community by August 1954. The U S Army Corps of Engineers considered reusing the Verendrye Bridge, near Sanish, as part of the second Four Bears Bridge. However, this was not possible as the Verendrye Bridge had to be kept in service during construction of the second Four Bears Bridge or there wouldn't have been a river crossing from Bismarch to Williston.
Work on the substructure and deck for the second Four Bears Bridge commenced in 1951, and ended in October 1953. Dismanteling of the first Four Bears Bridge began at the south end of the bridge. The dismantled sections were transported by truck along ND Highway to Parxhall and then westward on ND Highway 23 to the work yard established on the site of the Sanish Rodeo. There, the pieces were prepared for re-erection as the main channel spans for the new structure. The trusses were strengthened, primarily by reinforcing the upper chords and diagonals at the upper panel points.
Dismantling and the re-erecting of the huge trusses were facilitated by the use of an amphibious derrick with a 170 foot long boom and ingenious telescoping false work bents. A series of sub-aqueous cables moved the derrick from bank to bank. Use of the equipment is credited with making it possible to dismantle the first Four Bears Bridge in one construction season. The equipment was then moved to New Town to complete erection of the new 4,483 foot long bridge. Working first from the valley floor and then the river, the derrick set 2,000 feet of deck girder and deck truss spans and then, using pontoons for flotation, it set the continuous through truss spans salvaged from Elobwoods. The superstructure was in place by October 14, 1954, and the last concrete curb on the roadway deck placed on September 14, 1955.
Plaques with names of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara chiefs from the first Four Bears Bridge were attached to the inclined end posts of the second Four Bears bridge. The plaques were later removed for safe keeping in 1997 because they were not easily visible and they were getting damaged from oversized loads.
|HIDATSA & ARIKARA CHIEFS
In 1934, the year the Four Bears Memorial Bridge was constructed on the Fort Barthold Indian Reservation at Elbowoods, the U S Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. Two years later, a constitution was adopted. The Preamble read, "We, the Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan Indians of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, eagerly embrace the opportunity for self rule... and establish this constitution for the Three Affiliated Tribes of this reservation." Since this time, the three tribes have operated as one government, but each tribe has preserved its respective history and culture.
In 1933, construction of the first Four Bears Bridge began and in preparation for the dedication of the bridge, plaques were created bearing the names of the chiefs of each of the tribes. The names of the Hidatsa (Gros Ventres) and Arikara Chiefs were placed at the north entrance of the bridge and the Mandan chiefs on the south.
When the bridge moved to the New Town area, the plaques were placed in positions inaccessible for people to vies. As years passed and traffic increased damage to the plaques resulted from large vehicles clipping them as they passed. A vandal shot holes and spray painted the plaques. In October 1997, the plaques were removed from the bridge and placed at the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum for safekeeping. A short biography of the chiefs listed on the Four Bears Memorial Bridge plaque follows:
HIDATSA (Gros Ventres)
Crow Paunch- Crow Paunch was born in 1818, the son of Twisted Wood. He was a member of the Prairie Chciken Clan. Crow Paunch succeeded Four Bears as Headman. He died in 1896.
Big Brave- No information found.
Porcupine Head- No information found.
Crow Flies High- Crow Flies High was born in 1830. He served as the first chief of the Hoshita Band from 1869 - 1894, the band lived near the Fort Buford area. Crow Flies High died in 1900. (Additional information is located in the Portal Plaza).
Black Hawk (Si-pi-a-res)- Black Hawk was born in 1849 to Chicken Can't Swim (father) and Brown Hawk (mother). He was a member of the Prairie Chicken Clan. Black Hawk served as the second chief of the Hoshka Band. In 1910, he died at Shell Creek.
Old Dog (Wa-su-ka-di-as)- Old Dog was born in 1950
at Like-a-Fish-Hook village, the son of Many Bears (father) and Sweet Grass
(mother). He was a member of the Knife Clan. In 1928, Old Dog
died at Elbowoods.
White Shield (NahtAsuutaka)- White shield was one of the signers of the 1865 Agreement at Fort Berthold.
Son Of The Star (KuuNuxtunawilnx)- Son of The Star was one of the signers of the 1865 Agreement at Fort Berthold. (Additional information is located in the Portal Plaza)
Peter Beauchamp, Sr- Peter served as an interpreter and Indian scout.
Bobtail Bull- Bobtail Bull served as an Indian scout for the 7th Calvary at Fort Lincoln. He was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1875. (Additional information is located in the Portal Plaza)
|From 1938 to 1943. he served as the first
councilman representative for the Shell Creek District. He convinced the
Bureau of Indian Affairs to start a day school at Shell Creek, to the children
could stay in their own community to attend school. This was during the
time when children were sent away to boarding school, where it was intended they
lose their traditional values. He advocated for the hospital in Elbowoods,
and also for monetary claims for his Indian people. He was persistent in
getting permits from the Government for various events for his people. He
also made sure each household received cows, chickens, wagons and ranching
equipment. His many travels were by horse and wagon. He advocated
electricity and water for his people, which the U S Government ignored.
The U S Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing in Fort Berthold to
negotiate for a dam on the Reservation. The Pick Sloan Act called for a
series of five dams on the Upper Missouri River. Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue
objected to the construction of the dam. He attended the meeting in a war
bonnet and war paint, confronting General Lewis Pick stating, "You'll never take
from this land alive." General Pick was enraged with him and stated if the
people refused to move the Corps would flood them. General Pick left the
meeting with a "take it or leave it" attitude. In 1945,
Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue died with his land firmly under his feet. President
Franklin D Roosevelt commented, "This man Chief Drags Wolf is a wise old man if
he could speak English... oh, what he could do for his people as a great leader
of the Fort Berthold Indian reservation." Prior to the Big Flood,
Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue was reburied on higher ground. In 1948,
proceedings began for the Garrison Dam that would prove so disastrous for this
Reservation. The Tribe's priceless river-bottom, villages, homes,
hospitals, schools, flour mill and lumber mill were washed away forever.
Families were relocated. The one thing the U S Government did not succeed
in doing was taking away the Indian tradition, interpreters for
Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue were Arthur Mandan, Charles Huber, Louie Baker and Pete
In its heyday, over 450 people lived in Sanish, operating 54 different businesses. The town was officially abandoned on April 29, 1953, when water began to fill the reservoir behind the newly constructed Garrison Dam. Although the town of "new" Sanish was established, most residents from Sanish and the inundated communities of Elbowoods, and Van Hook relocated to the present day community of New Town. Many buildings from these three towns were relocated to New Town as well.
During periods of low water, foundations of the Sanish grain elevators may be seen in Sanish Bay and the prominent hills emerge as islands.
The aerial photo was taken in 1953. It shows both old Sanish and "New" Sanish as well as the Verendrye Bridge crossing the Missouri River. Four Bears Bridge is under construction in this photo. Crow Flies High Butte Historic Site can be seen as a small loop road to the northeast of Four Bears Bridge, and straight south of the original railroad depot.
Established in 1914 on the east bank of the Missouri River, the village of Sanish was named after the Arikara word meaning real of friendly people. This area was also called "Old Crossing" by the early Indians because of the great buffalo herds that crossed here on their annual migrations. The photo above, taken in the 1930's shows the Verendrye Bridge, which was completed in 1927. Sanish became an important grain and livestock shipping center in the didst of a large agriculture area.
|From 1947 to 1953, the Sanish Rodeo drew
thousands of visitors to the small town of Sanish, ND. People traveled
from all corners of the state to watch events, including Saddle Bronc Riding,
Calf Roping, Bareback Riding, Bull Riding, Trick Riding and a Free-For-All Horse
According to the July 6, 1950 edition of the Sanish Sentenel, "The arena was surrounded with humanity about 10 to 15 deep. And the crowd estimated at about 18,000 to 20,000 was not disappointed.
The rodeo ended in 1953, when the rising waters of Lake Sakakawea inundated the town. The rodeo grounds, which were located in a beautiful wooded area along the west bank of the river, now lie almost directly beneath the Four Bears Bridge.
In 2001, the Sanish Rodeo was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in its Special Achievement Division. The recognition is a tribute to the Sanish Rodeo's role in North Dakota History and North Dakota's Cowboy legacy.
It was often said, "The best of the west ride at Sanish," because riders from all across the country would come to test their luck. Those who did become champions in the main event received gold and silver belt buckles, and the overall champion received a saddle. Prize money was also awarded, which in 1953, totaled $ 3800.00.
A summer camp was established on the west bank of the Missouri River in the early 1880's. That summer camp, called Crow Flies High Village, is located approximately 3-1/2 miles northwest of this point. In this agricultural settlement, the women tended garden plots, while the men fished, hunted and chopped firewood for the steamboats navigating the river. For nearly 25 years Crow Flies High and his band were self-sustaining, no longer receiving government rations.
By 1893, there was little game to hunt and settlers were moving into the region. Those factors along with military pressure forced the chief and his band to return to the reservation under U S Army escort in 1894. Crow Flies High died of pneumonia in 1900.
|The plan of Crow Flies High Village was drawn by an occupant known locally as Adlai Stevenson (Bear-In-The-Water) (Mi-Ni-Ku-A-Nah-Pi-Tsi) to assist in ethnographic study. Additional historic information about Native Americans can be found across the Four Bears Bridge at the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum and the State Heritage Center in Bismarck. The Three Affiliated Tribes are comprised of the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatswa Nations|
|CROW FLIES HIGH
This butte honors Crow Flies High, a Hidatsa Indian chief who was a leader on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. He lived at Like-A-Fishhook Village until a disagreement with another tribal chief led him and his followers to abandon the village. Around 1870, Crow Flies High, along with 140 other tribal members, settled near Fort Buford settlement was not occupied continuously but served as a winter camp and base camp for hunting expeditions.
|This early view of Like-A-Fishhook Village is a cultural mix of earth lodges and wood/log cabins of the Mandan/Hidatsa Nations that can clearly be seen, as can the circular central plaza surrounding the "Ark of the First Man." The original illustration by Martin Bears Arm is quite large (about 7' 3" x 5' 9") and painted on heavy canvas.|
|Arikara warriors enlisted in the service of the U S Army
with prior approval by Chief Son Of The Star. There were 159 "Ree" Scouts
who served from 1867 - 1883. The enlistments of the warriors were a matter
of survival for the Arikara people. The Arikara people, with visionary
foresight, knew that if they remained an independent group, the encroaching
powerful force of the white army would defeat them. The Arikara scouts
performed duties that included: military dispatch couriers, reconnaissance,
tracking and capturing herds of enemies horses. They accompanied the U S
Army on numerous expeditions. Individual Arikara scouts demonstrated many
acts of bravery and heroism. Special songs were made to honor them and are
sung today by their direct descendents.
The scouts went beyond the call of duty and followed Major Reno's command into the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. Three Arikara scouts, depicted here, were killed: Bloody Knife, Bobtail Bull and Little Brave. After the Battle of Little Big Horn, two scout horses returned home without their riders, Little Brave's pinto and Bloody Knife's buckskin house. Little Brave's pinto was brought to the village and was cared for by Young Hawk II. Bloody Knife's horse had arrow wounds and was doctored by Medicine Men. Both horses were never to be ridden again. Special songs were composed to honor these two valiant horses that had made their way back home. These songs are still sung today. Bloody Knife was the most famous Arikara warrior and scout, killed in battle at the age of 36. He remained true to his Sahnish heritage, and performed admirably and heroically as a scout, earning the rank of Corporal. Bobtail Bull was the Arikara warrior and scout for the U S Army. His courageous and strong leadership earned him the rank of Sergeant. He was killed at the age of 45. Little Brave was an Arikara warrior and scout. During his life, he heroically protected his people. Little Brave served the U S Army. He was killed at the age of 26.
The Arikara scouts served honorably and bravely. They performed their duties as ordered. Many men and women from Arikara descent have served in the Armed Forces and continue today serving with traditional dedication and honor. All of those that have served will be honored for their courage and commitment for defending their people. "Today we remember them. The ways of the old ones who were. The good ways that were ours. They are honored for their personal courage and commitment to defend their people... The Sahnish."
|CHIEF SON OF THE STAR|
|Chief Son Of The Star, 1815 - 1881, was an Arikara
and the principal Sahnish Chief. He was a kind and benevolent Chief, and
guided his people during a time of great change. Chief Son Of The Star was
known for his wise leadership. His mentor, Chief White Shield, was also
noted for his great leadership skills and assisted Son Of The Star during his
early years as Chief. Chief Son Of The Star signed the treaty of 1886.
The treaties of 1825, 1851 and 1866 impacted the lives of
the Sahnish people, as well as other tribes.
In 1874, Chief Son Of The Star was chosen as a delegate to represent the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Agency in Washington, DC. In 1875, the Chief Son Of The Star was called to Washington DC by the President of the United States. The President asked if his warriors would serve as scouts for the U S Army. Chief Son Of The Star knew that enlisting the warriors was a matter of survival for his people. With visionary foresight, he knew that if they remained an independent group, the encroaching powerful force of the white army would defeat them. Chief Son Of The Star granted permission for scouts to enlist in the U S Army. He was concerned about the Indian children that had been forcibly taken from reservations and sent to schools in the east. He traveled to Hampton, Virginia to inspect the eastern Indian school system. He advocated that Indian children should be educated on their own reservation. He was instrumental in the transformation of Fort Stevenson, which became the first Native American school for his people on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
|This medallion represents Bears Belly, also known as,
ku'nuh kana nu'. He was an Arikara Medicine Man and member of the Bear
Clan. Bears Belly was born in 1847 at Fort Clark. He wore the skin
of a bear that he had killed. The Bear's sacred animal spirit bestowed
spiritual powers to him... a Medicine Man. Bears Belly used his holy
powers for healing and ceremonial purposes.
The story of Bears Belly and the skin of the bear is this... Bears Belly and Red Star had gone bear hunting one day. They tracked a bear to the river and and across the sand up to a cut bank cave. The two of them went to the entrance of the cave and looked in, but they could not stir the bear. Bears Belly went back up the bank to the other entrance. Upon viewing the bear's head, he shot at the bear. The bear sank out of sight and the two men crawled into the den about eight feet and began poking the bear to decide whether the bear was dead or alive.
They decided the bear was dead, Bears Belly and Red Star had a hard time dragging the bear out of the cave because of the bear's heavy weight. Bears Belly wanted the bear's head and skin to use in sacred ceremonies. He dragged the bear home by means of thongs fastened to his own flesh. Red Star cut two gashes in Bears Belly's back and fastened the rawhide thongs as done in the Sun Dance. Red Star went on ahead and left him to drag the hide painfully the whole way home. When Red Star reached camp, he told the old men that Bears Belly was dragging the hide to camp. Several of them went to help him whenever the hide got caught on something. He did not make it to camp until the next night. Bears Belly joined the U S Army when he was 19 years old and was assigned to Custer's 7th Calvary. In June 1875, he took part in the Custer Surveying Expedition. Bears Belly was among the Arikara scouts that led Custer to gold in the Black Hill close to the Shell River.
|The Mandan were farmers and hunters
settled in permanent earth lodge villages along the Missouri River in the
Heart and Knife River areas for centuries. The men were the hunters
and the protectors of the villages. The women cultivated the Missouri
River floodplain and grew corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers. The
Mandan established a flourishing trade center; it was one of the three major
trade networks west of the Mississippi River. Corn and other garden
produce were traded, along with Knife River flint with the nomadic hunter
tribes... Crow, Assiniboine, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other Plains Tribes.
Early trade items the nomadic tribes traded were buffalo meat and robes, red
pipestone, animal pelts and eagle feathers. After the arrival of the
white traders and adventurers, trade items included gun powder, muskets,
kettles, awls, knives, horses and beaver pelts. Intertribal trade
ceased when the Indian Tribes were placed on reservations.
The Mandan buffalo hide pictured centers on the sacred corn that was given to the Mandan people by three sacred being... Corn Husk Earrings, Uses His Head For A Rattle, and Good Furred Robe. Each is represented by the three figures in the center circle. The series of connected purple circles or dots symbolizes the Mandan trade network. The corn bundle depicts the wide variety of sacred corn that the Mandan's carried. The corn bundle depicts the wide variety of sacred corn that the Mandan's carried. The Mandan corn, beans and squash represent the variety of horticultural items that were highly sought after by the nomadic tribes of the Plains. The horses are shown running in transition, symbolizing the trade network and the ever-changing culture of the Mandans. Shown in each corner of the buffalo hide are trade items that were specific to the Mandan villages: furs, shells, pipe stone, flint, and other cultural items. The flint arrowheads above the buffalo hide represent the clans of the Mandan Tribe.
|MANDAN- NUETA - NUPTADI - AWIGAXA|
|This depiction, drawn by Sitting Rabbit
(a k a Little Owl) in 1905, was one of the tow Mandan Villages
located on the Missouri River and its tributary, the Knife River.
Mite-Son-Kas, was comprised of 38 earth lodges. Four bands of the
Mandan were Nuptadi, Nuitadi (Nueta), Awigaxa and Is'topa. Three of
the bands are depicted. Each ban occupied one or more villages.
Within the bands were 13 clans: Prairie Chicken, Speckled Eagle, Badget,
Bunch of Woods, Bear, Red Hill, Crow, Waxi'kena, Tami'sik, Tami'xixika, and
three extinct clans. In 1781, the smallpox epidemic struck nine
of the Mandan earth lodge villages in the Heart and Missouri River areas,
today the location of the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. The epidemic
at the Heart River villages reduced the Mandan to three villages.
The survivors moved up the Missouri River, settled near the Hidasta, Awatixa, villages and built the Nuptadi and Nuitadi (Nueta) villages. The earth lodges, as pictured, were typical of all Mandan summer lodges with covered log entrances and corn scaffold. The gardens of the Mandan women consisted of different varieties of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. Every Mandan village had a central open plaza with a rectangular ceremonial lodge and the Lone Man Shrine; the plaza was used for religious ceremonies and public events. The major religious ceremony of the Mandan during the summer was Okeepa, held in the ceremonial lodge and at the Shrine for four days and nights. Mandan Tribal members believe that as long as the Lone Man Shrine remains standing. Mandan people will remain. In the winter, the Mandan moved to winter lodges near sheltered, wooded areas. In 1837, the majority of the Mandan people living at the two Knife River villages died during another smallpox epidemic. The survivors moved even further up the Missouri River in 1845 with the Hidatsa people and built Like-a-Fish-Hook village. The Arikara joined the two tribes in 1862, and all three tribes currently live on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
|Buffalo hunting was a major and very
dangerous activity of the Manden men. They hunted on foot in summer
and winter before the introduction of the horse to the Mandan people.
The techniques the Mandan people used was to either herd the buffalo to jump
off a cliff or to herd the buffalo into a corral where they were killed and
butchered. The sketch was done by Sitting Rabbit (a k a Little Owl), a
Mandan tribal member, for the State Historical Society of North Dakota in
1905. It shows the hunters on snowshoes driving the buffalo to
jump and a corral. Each year a summer buffalo hunt was planned
carefully with the members of the Okeepa Religious Society selecting a
leader for the hunt.
The summer heat began after the gardens were planted and the sacred ceremonies, Okeepa, was held. The ceremony included prayers for a successful buffalo hunt, The Black Mouth Society kept order throughout the summer hunt, and families of the hunters accompanied them, often traveling a great distance from the village. When the men butchered the buffalos, men and women helped in preparing the meat. The meat was dried by the women on scaffolds which were made at the site. The buffalo provided meat, sinew for sewing, hides for clothing and robes, garden tools and supplies for bullboats. Every single part of the buffalo had a use to the Mandan people. Buffalo meat was always shared with the elderly and others in the village that did not have someone to hunt for them.
|Mahto Tope or Four Bears was born in the late 1790's and died on July 30, 1837, of the smallpox epidemic. He was the son of Good Boy, war leader at Slant Village, located near the Heart River and theVillage of Mitutanka. After the death of his father, Mahto Tope was chosen the second leader of Mitutanka. He was a brave and courageous man and a distinguished war leader. Mahto Tope was charismatic, generous, fearless in battle against enemy tribes, and respected by the Mandan people. Mahto Tope was a religious man, who held important religious sacred bundles, gave many feasts, and was highly respected for sponsoring the Okeepa, the most sacred religious ceremony of the Mandan Tribe. As the custom of the Mandan Tribe, Mahto Tope was generous and gave away his valuable possessions. He did not accumulate material goods and did not become wealthy. It was tradition among the Mandan for the leader's family, which included clan brothers and sisters, to help in gathering material goods for the Okeepa and to prepare the feast. Mahto Tope fought in many battles alone and with other warriors from the village against enemy tribes. He avenged the death of his brother by killing the enemy warrior with the warrior's own lance. The painting of Four Bears, depicted here, was done by Karl Bodmer in 1883. When Mahto Tope posed for Karl Bodmer, he showed his war deeds as, "very celebrated and eminent warriors when most highly decorated wear in their hair various pieces of wood, as tokens of their wounds and heroic deeds." The wooden knife in his hair is painted red to indicate he killed a Cheyenne chief with his knife; 6 wooden sticks with a brass nail at each end indicates musket wounds; the wild turkey wing feather indicates an arrow wound; yellow-dyed owl feathers with red tips indicates membership in the Dog Society; the 17 yellow stripes indicate warlike deeds; and the hand painted yellow shows he captured some prisoners.|
|Mahto Tope had befriended many white
traders and visitors, he fed them when they were hungry, protected them, and
never fought against them. When smallpox killed his family, relatives
and friends, he renounced his friendship with the whites and held them
responsible for the epidemic. He called the white race "black hearted
dogs" and the Mandan peoples' "mortal enemies." The 1837
smallpox epidemic survivors fled and went to their sheltered Missouri River
winter villages. When they returned to their villages in the spring,
they found their earth lodges occupied by the Arikara. The Hidatsa
leader, also named Four Bears, with Mandan and Hidatsa survivors, moved up
the Missouri River to establish Like-a-Fish-Hook Village. The
survivors include Mahto Tope's descendants, many who now live on the Fort
Berthold Indian Reservation
Awa-Xia (Dripping Dirt) and Ee-di-shu-ga (Wide Ridge).
|Sahnish spirituality is depicted with
the Medicine Lodge, Holy Cedar Tree, the Sacred Rock and Mother Corn.
The Medicine Lodge was located in the center of traditional Sahnish
Villages. The Medicine Lodge was a holy house where the Sahnish people
practiced a highly developed religious and ceremonial life. This
religious and ceremonial life, which revolved around the Medicine Lodge was
the basis of the Sahnish cultural way of life.
The Holy Cedar Tree is a sacred symbol of the Arikara Tribe, meaning "Grandmother of all living things." It symbolizes life and the renewal of hope. The Holy Cedar Tree is used for healing and for ceremonies. The Sacred Rock is a symbol of the Arikara Tribe, meaning "Grandfather of all living things." It represents strength, the most enduring ancient element of the earth.
The Sacred Rock is a strong protector of the Sahnish people. Mother Corn is an important symbolic element in the Arikara ceremonies and rituals. Mother Corn is an important symbolic element in the Arikara ceremonies and rituals. Mother Corn originated from the Sahnish people. She was sent by Neshanu Natchitak (Chief Above). Corn was personified and deified as Mother Corn. Corn was a protector and bestowed cultural traditions to the Sahnish people. Throughout history, corn sustained the Sahnish people. The Arikara people have endured many hardships, through their history and through their northwest migration, which impacted their traditional way of life. The Arikara people are survivors. They are brave, resourceful and mindful of their religious beliefs and the moral teachings of Mother Corn.
|Z Xoo-baj-dee-tsi-diahsh, Rattles
Medicine, is a Hidatsa woman. She is pictured in a cape and earrings
made of Dentalium shells. These shells were one of the trade items
from the West Coast Indians. The flint used for making stone tools,
illustrated on this medallion, was a major trade item that was unique to
North Dakota. The Hidatsa Clans are inherited from your mother.
The tribe is matrilineal. You are also a child of your father's clan.
Originally there were 13 clans within the Hidatsa culture. Today there
are seven remaining active clans of the Hidatsa.
Three Clans: Nah-ge-nah-we are brothers and sisters. Metsi-no-ga
(Flint Knife), Ma-xo-xa-di (Alkali Lodge) and A-pu-ca me-gah (Low Cap).
Four clans: Nah-ge-doe'bah are brothers and sisters. Tsis-ga (Prairie
Chicken), Midi Badi (Water Buster), Awa-Xia (Dripping Dirt), and
The Clans were and remain an integral part of Hidatsa life. They function as extended families with defined roles and interactions from birth to death. Clan beliefs are taught in early childhood. The Clans provide a bond of culture, societies, life way, and homelands. Clan brothers and sisters are allowed to tease each other, except with blood relatives. In a respectful way, teasing of grandfathers and grandmothers is accepted. Teasing within Hidatsa culture is the test of a person's temperament and it is used as a tool for teaching. Naming of children was by the grandfather and/or grandmother. The person giving a name had certain rights within the life of that individual. Today we acknowledge a change in the naming ritual. Burial today is done by a person's Clan e-sha-we or aah-du (father). For Ceremonial events you call on your Clan brother's child. Within the Tribe some things remain sacred.
|Sahnish spirituality is depicted with
the Medicine Lodge, Holy Cedar Tree, Sacred Rock, Father Corn. The
Medicine Lodge was located in the center of traditional Sahnish village.
The Medicine Lodge was a holy house where the Sahnish people practiced a
highly developed religious and ceremonial life. This religious and
ceremonial life, which revolved around the Medicine Lodge was the basis of
the Sahnish cultural way of life.
The Holy Cedar Tree is a sacred symbol of the Arikara Tribe, meaning "Grandmother of all living things." It symbolizes life and the renewal of hope. The Holy Cedar Tree is used for healing and for ceremonies. The Sacred Rock is a symbol of the Arikara Tribe, meaning "Grandfather of all living things." It represents strength, the most enduring ancient element of the earth.
The Sacred Rock is a strong protector of the Sahnish people. Mother Corn is an important symbolic element in the Arikara ceremonies and rituals. Mother Corn originated from the Sahnish people. She was sent by Neshanu Natchitak (Chief Above). Corn was personified and defied as Mother Corn. Corn was a protector and bestowed cultural traditions to the Sahnigh people. Throughout history, corn sustained the Sahnish people.
The Arikara people have endured many hardships, through their history and through their northwest migration, which impacted their traditional way of life. The Arikara people are survivors. They are brave, resourceful, and mindful of their religious beliefs and the moral teachings of Mother Corn.
|Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getish, Raven, is
pictured overlooking the village that was established by the Ioshka Band.
Earlier the Band settled near Fort Buford and established a village in
1866. Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getish was born in 1830.
His parents died in the smallpox epidemic that devastated the Upper Missouri
River region. His bravery, fasting, and spiritual vision enabled him
to become a head war chief. When the U S Government defined the
Reservation boundaries and forced the three Tribes to settle in
Like-a-Fish-Hook village, to depend on the Government for food rations, and
to change their rich cultural lifestyle to fit within the Government's
confines. Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getish refused to live under these
restrictions. His decision to leave Like-a-Fish-Hook village was
influenced by the presence of Euro-American fur traders competing companies
who established trading posts at opposite ends of the village. As a
leader, he did not condone the proposed lifestyle and left with a band of
people in 1870. They traveled through the confluence of the
Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers and lived near Fort Buford. One of the
earliest treaties agreed to by the Hidatsa, said our people's hunting
grounds included hunting rights along streams and tributaries in our domain.
During this time the band became known as the Hoshka Band (a Sioux word
meaning butte or rich land). They continued their traditional way of
living by hunting, growing crops, and living off the rich land. They
continued to be prosperous. Ethnographic accounts describe a
substantial village at this site with 7 log cabins and 23 earth lodges.
The 1885 Territorial Census reported that Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getixh had a large family of six boys and six girls. In the summer of 1884, the band moved down the Missouri River to the side that is known as the Crow Flies High Village, near the mouth of the Little Knife River. By 1893, the buffalo had become scarce because of slaughtering by Euro-Americans. Buffalo were a vital part of the Hoshka Band's survival. The U S Indian Agent would not provide them rations unless they moved back to the Reservation and accepted land allotments. In 1894 under escort by the U S Cavalry, the Hoshka Band was moved back to the Reservation in the late winter/early spring. Few families had horse drawn wagons and they were loaded with older people and mothers with small children. Most people walked, wearing moccasins. On this forced march, the Cavalry drove the band at a relentless pace through snow, rain and mud. The Band endured some pain-filled miles as they moved over frozen ground, which at times thawed, then froze again. Some ended the trip barefooted and some of the Band members lost their life on this march. Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getixh was adamant in his disapproval of forced "white education" of the Tribe's children, fearing they would lose their culture. He wore traditional dress, but on rare occasions he would wear an officer's coat and cowboy hat. In 1898, Baydeska mah-ga-dah-getixh let a group of his people in a parade honoring soldiers leaving from the city of Williston for the Spanish American War. He danced the traditional war dances for the last time in public. He died of pneumonia in Shell Creek in 1900. To honor him, a butte above the Missouri River west of New Town.
|Mia-itsa-gish, Lone Woman, a Flint Knife
Clan, was Hidatsa. She is pictured carrying her child on her back, as
was the custom in her day. Before the explorer, Columbus came in
1492, the Hidatsas were in a thriving society on this continent.
We know from our oral history that we came out of the earth near the Spirit Lake, ascending on a vine, and that we settled in the upper Missouri country, which eventually became known as the Louisiana Purchase and then North Dakota. We stood on the eastern banks of the river and called out to the Mandan on the other bank, "mid adati'ma-wahats" (we want to cross the water). With these friendly calls we began our long relationship with the Mandan. There is another version of our origin concerning the vine extending from the underworld.
The Hidatsa Tribal name came from the term "Mida hutse" which translates "Willow Lodge." The Hidatsa had three main villages, each with its own dialect, but still the Hidatsa language. The Hidatsa Tribe is matriarchal. Women played a major role in survival of the people and they were very self-reliant. A woman's primary role was as a homemaker. She would preserve vegetables and meat for food, tan hides for clothes, make the clothes and moccasins, make blankets do quillwork, and perform the rituals and rites for gardening. The men were hunters, warriors, and defenders of the Tribe. In the summertime, the Mandan and the Hidatsa hunters would prepare to hunt for wild game. At times the women and children went along on the hunt for preparation of drying the meat and other foods, leaving the villages vacant. During these times the villages were open to raiding of the stored food by other tribes. Treaties agreed to by Hidatsa ancestors emphasized the retaining of many rights to the way of life, for as long as the grass grows and the water flows.
The traits of the Hidatsa that have helped them survive includes: being peaceful, hospitality, and our sense of humor. The Arikara were originally a band of Pawnee. In 1862, long after their break from the Pawnee, they joined the Hidatsa and Mandan people for mutual protection against a common enemy. After the epidemic, the Mandans and Hidatsas vacated the earthlodges, which were later occupied by the Arikaras.
|CHIEF DRAGS WOLF|
|Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue, Drags Wolf, a Water
Buster Clan, was born in 1862 to Chief Crow Flies High and Peppermint
Woman. His early years were spent with the Hoshka Band near Fort
Buford. About 1894, when he was 32 years old, the Band was
forced to move back to the Reservation, to the Shell Creek District.
In 1890, Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue traveled to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, as a
tribal delegate. Imprints of his feet were cemented into a foundation
as a monument of peace.
In the early 1900's, a man who was holding the Water Buster Clan bundle became a Christian and sold the bundle. In 1933, after receiving a pass from the Superintendent to leave the Reservation, Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue and Foolish Bear, Water Buster Clansmen, went to Washington, DC. They could not speak English so an interpreter, Arthur Mandan, accompanied them. They met with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, John Collier, to finalize the arrangements to repatriate the bundle, which had been on display at the Heye Museum in New York. When they arrived in Washington, President Franklin D Roosevelt, in a ceremony, presented Drags Wolf with a peace medal and in his honor raised a flag in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
Although the U S Government did not allow tribal people to hold cultural events, through his perseverance, Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue obtained permission to hold a ceremonial dance after the return of the bundle. A two-week ceremony, which included feasting, singing, and dancing was held. The rain returned after the dance, following many years of drought. The return of the bundle is considered one of Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue greatest achievements for his people of the Reservation.
In 1930, Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue, along with Jim Eagle, were delegates chosen to go to Browning, Montana, for the interpretation of the sign language with other Tribes. Their footprints are cemented in stone in Browning. In 1934, the three Tribes met in Rapid City to discuss with Government officials the impending Indian Reorganizing Act. Tsa-sa-nu-tsa-rue was one of the delegates. After some of the reforms were rewritten to include education, tribal credit programs and other benefits for the Indian Tribes, he supported the Act.
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