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September 2010

Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (Sahnish)



Images supplied by : Linden Museum, Germany

The first known account of the Mandan is that of the French trader, Sieur de la La Verendrye, in the fall of 1738. McKenzie visited the Mandan in 1772. Written accounts came from Lewis and Clark who arrived among the Mandan in the fall of 1804. They furnish only the location and early condition of the archaeological remains both of the Mandan and Arikara. Alexander Henry, a trader for the Northwest Company, came to trade fur with the Mandan in 1806. After Henry Brackenridge and Bradbury came to the area together in 1810, they wrote additional information about the Mandan, but mostly about the Arikara. The next visitor was the artist, George Catlin, who visited in the spring of 1833. Maximilian, Prince of Wied-Neuwied, spent the winter months of 1833-34 among the Mandan. (Will, Spinden, pp. 86-88).
Accounts of recorded history in the early 18th century identify three closely related village groups to which the term Hidatsa is applied. These groups are identified as the Hidatsa Proper, largest of the three, the Awatixa, a smaller group, and the Awaxawi.

The three Hidatsa village groups spoke distinct dialects. The largest of the three were the Hidatsa Proper (Hiratsa) whose own name for themselves meant "willows." (Matthews, 1877, p.36B).

The Arikara are of Caddoan stock and are closely related to the Skidi Pawnee of Nebraska. This group originated in the South and gradually worked their way northward up the Missouri River. The French fur traders found the Arikara located on the Cheyenne River, in South Dakota, in 1770, but Lewis and Clark found them living in the vicinity of the Grand River, also in South Dakota, in 1804.

Source: "History of the North Dakota Indian Tribes." American Indian Curriculum Development Program of United Tribes Technical College.


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