The Mandan tribe is known to have lived along the Missouri River in the present day state of North Dakota. The Mandan’s are also known as the Mi-ah’-ta-nees which means “people on the bank”. They are known for being a peaceful, friendly tribe.
The Mandan Indian lived in dwellings called earth lodges. They were among the very few Plains Indians who did not live in tipis, although the Mandan Indians did use tipis for when they were out on hunts.
Today there are very few full blooded Mandan Indians alive. Some even say that the last full-blooded Mandan died in 1971. The first recorded encounter was around 1730, until this time there is no record of Mandan Indian.
The Mandan people where know for growing corn. They had corn of yellow, red, and white. The Mandan were very careful of not making sure these colors would not mix. The woman and elderly men would help remove brush from the fields. The buffalo’s shoulder blade was used and plow, for it was on of the strongest bones. The Mandan were not much hunters but it still was practiced. They mostly depended on agriculture. Some of their other crops include squash and beans.
The main mode of transportation amongst the Mandan was by river, they used what is called bull boat or and coracle. This is a bowl shaped boat made of willow and buffalo hide. When traveling by land, pre-western influence, the Mandan used what is called a travois; this is similar to today’s modern day dog sleds.
Games were a major part of the Mandan’s life. One popular game that was played was the arrow game. This game helped young Mandan boys learn precision when shooting a bow. The game consisted of the boys trying to shoot at a moccasin, whoever’s arrow would land closest to the moccasin would win the game. Both Mandan boys and girls were known to play with dolls.
By the turn of the 19th c. the Mandan tribe was nearly whipped out by whopping cough, or a small pox. It is said that only 125 Mandan people had survived.
It was only after this epidemic that the Mandan in efforts to save their culture and identity decided to band together with the Arikara. This affiliation is currently known as the “Three affiliated tribes”. The band is made up of the Mandan, Hidaste, and Ariakara.
The Mandan like any other culture had several different rituals and ceremonies. Most of their rituals were meant for their Great Spirit. Several of the Mandan rituals involved some type of self-mutilation and fasting. In some cases these rituals would end up being self-sacrifice.
The Mandan people were once organized into bands: the Is’ tope (meaning the tattooed), Nup’ tadi (has no translation), Ma’ nana’ r (those who quarreled), Nu’ itadi (our people), and the Qwi’ kaxa (no translation). Once organized into bands they were organized into units, these units included: economic, hunting, protection of the elders, and a gardening unit.
In 1833 A.D. George Catlin a famous painter of North American Native Americans came across the Mandan people. Catlin wrote about the once fabled belief of an Indian tribe coming into contact with some Welsh explores 300 years before Columbus’s discovery of North America. Catlin describes the Mandan people having blonde hair and grey eyes. In most if not of Catlin’s paintings he shows the viewer of what native life was like.
In 1804 Lewis and Clark, along with the Corps of Discovery spent their first winter with the Mandan. Upon their return, Lewis and Clark named the Mandan one of the most peaceful tribes they had came into encounter with.
Where do some Mandan Indians livetoday? The Mandan are believed to have once lived along the Ohio River valley until they migrated into present day North Dakota sometime in the early seventh century, where they resided along the Missouri River.
References1. None, Knife River Indian village- teachers guide games & recreation. RetrievedFebruary 17, 2009, from KNIFE RIVER INDIAN VILLAGES NATIONAL HISTORICSITE: Web site: http://www.nps.gov/archive/knri/teach/games.htm.2.None, (2009, February 9). Mandan-wikipedia, the free encyclopedia..Retrieved February 14,2009, from Mandan Web site:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandan.3.None, Pbs online- Lewis and Clark:Native Ameicans.Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Mandan Indians Web site:http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/native/idx_man.html.4.Hurt, D. R., American agriculture. Lafayette, IN: PurdueUniversity.
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