This video provides a brief introduction to Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site.
- Credit / Author:
- National Park Service
[Birds singing and water running]
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site,
[Native American Singing]
…at the confluence of the Knife and Missouri Rivers, is perhaps the most important archeological site in the Northern Great Plains. The site was home to villages of earthlodge peoples primarily the Hidatsa and Mandan tribes for hundreds of years. Trade at this location with other tribal groups of the Northern Great Plains led to business interactions and a complex trade network.
[Native American Flute Music is playing]
Keys to this trade were a wealth of agricultural products and items of Knife River Flint, a dark chocolate like flint quarried forty miles to the west.
[Birds singing is added to the Native American Flute Music]
So desired was this beneficial stone the associated quarries were excavated for eleven thousand years. By the late 1700s trade with non Indian trappers and traders was also wide spread. One European that lived here was French Canadian trader Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sakakawea. It was here that Charbonneau, Sakakawea and their infant son Pomp joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Today the National Park Service preserves that heavy concentration of historic and prehistoric archeological sites and resources. Park Rangers interpret the life ways, agriculture and trade practices of the American Indian groups of the Northern Great Plains, using the resources, stories, and histories of the Mandan and Hidatsa People.
The Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site offers a Visitor Center, a highly regarded museum, a movie based on first-hand accounts of Hidatsa life ways and culture, and a well furnished book store. A full sized and fully furnished Hidatsa Earthlodge helps you to envision an active house hold. The grinding of grain, the boiling of buffalo meat in a clay pot on the center fire, and ceremonial traditions. Guided ranger programs and hikes are available during the summer with special tours available year round upon request. Visitors are invited to walk on their own among the remains of the villages that once served as a multi-cultural trade empire. The remains of three primary Hidatsa village sites internationally recognized for the quality and quantity of visible earthlodge depressions, assist the imagination in visualizing the lay out and size of the former communities. For the adventuresome over a dozen miles of hiking and cross country skiing trails lead visitors to remote areas of the park, providing breathtaking views of the Missouri River Valley and close up views of wildlife. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site offers educational opportunities, outdoor excitement and wildlife experience to suit almost any interest.
We invite you to come and immerse yourself in more than ten thousand years of history in a natural environment.