Experience the adventure of the Corps of Discovery! Walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark as you explore the Missouri River corridor. Visit Fort Mandan, where the expedition wintered in 1804 -1805. Step inside an earthlodge at Knife River Indian Villages. Opportunities abound in North Dakota.
Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center - Located one-half mile east of Fort Buford, the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center tells the story of the confluence of these two mighty rivers, as well as provides the same magnificent view that Lewis and Clark Expedition members enjoyed when they visited in 1805 and 1806. The rotunda area will include three large murals featuring quotes from the Lewis and Clark Journals, and paintings of the Missouri River landscape by Colonel Philippe Régis de Trobriand, commanding officer of Fort Stevenson near present-day Garrison, N.D. in the late 1860s.
Fort Mandan/Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center - The winter home of the Corps of Discovery in 1804-1805, Ft. Mandan was constructed with nearby cottonwoods and named in honor of the Mandan peoples who were, along with the Hidatsa, acting as hosts for the expedition. Its original location in doubt, probably under the waters of the Missouri river, a reconstruction of the fort is located two miles west of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, Washburn, North Dakota.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site - These Hidatsa villages were once the center of a thriving trade and agricultural center. The site contains the remains of three villages, of which the Awatixa Xi’e (Lower Hidatsa village) is the oldest. Awatixa (or Sacagawea village) was settled in approximately 1795; while Big Hidatsa village was established around 1600 after the Hidatsa peoples once living at Heart River moved north. At its peak, the trade network at Knife River extended to the Great Lakes in the east, deep into the southern Great Plains in the south, and perhaps as far west as the Rocky Mountains. It is no exaggeration to say that in the world of Native American trade, the Knife river villages held a place of importance comparable to Chicago today.
The Knife River villages were largely abandoned after the calamitous 1837 smallpox outbreaks, with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara survivors moving to Like-a-Fish-Hook village further to the north.
A National Historic Site, Knife River has an interpretive center, reconstructed earth lodge, and presentations by Park personel. Archaeological work is ongoing at this important one- time center of trade and agriculture.
Double-Ditch Indian Village Site - Located ten miles north of Bismarck on a panoramic bluff overlooking the Missouri river, Double Ditch was once a large Mandan village occupied between approximately 1600 C.E. and 1781 C.E. Taking its name from the two dry moats that surround the village, a feature that is unusual for other period sites, the two ditches encircle a total of 158 known earth lodge depressions. When the Lewis and Clark expedition passed this village in October 1804, they noted that it was in ruins, abandoned except for the temporary presence of Dakota Indians. There are ongoing archaeological excavations of Double Ditch which are helping to reinterpret the history of this important site.
On-a-Slant Indian Village - On-A-Slant Village near the confluence of the Missouri and Heart rivers, was one of the traditional Mandan villages. The Corps of Discovery camped across the Missouri river from the site in October 1804, where their journals report that the ruins of the then-abandoned village were still visible.
Located near Ft. Abraham Lincoln and Ft. McKeen, some six miles south of the city of Mandan, this historic site has reconstructed earth lodges, an interpretive center, and campground facilities. It also hosts a number of annual events commemorating the rich history of the area and region.
Huff Indian Village Site - Located near the town of Huff, eighteen miles south of Mandan, this site was a prehistoric ancestral home of the Mandan people. It is thought to have been occupied by upwards of 1000 people at its peak. From approximately 1000 C.E. to 1400 C.E., there were small settlements scattered along the Missouri river in this vicinity, while from approximately 1400 C.E. to 1600 C.E. larger, more fortified villages like Huff were more common. By the time Lewis and Clark passed the village site in 1804, it had long since been abandoned.
Fort Union National Historic Site - Ft. Union (first called Ft. Floyd) was constructed in 1828 under the aegis of the St. Louis-based American Fur Company. Located near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, Ft. Union was the crown jewel of the upper Missouri fur trade sites and attracted commerce from a number of different regional tribes. Many famous visitors came to Ft. Union, including artists such as George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, and John James Audibon.
The Ft. Union site also is near Lewis and Clark campsites in 1805 and 1806, as well as Ft. Buford, an American military outpost. Today the restored Ft. Union stands as a tourist attraction that hosts programs in commemoration of a bustling fur trade operation and important frontier outpost. Nearby Ft. Buford also offers interpretive services of the military period on the Great Plains and in 2003 a new museum, the Missouri-Yellowstone confluence center, was opened to interpret the area’s importance as a one-time bustling economic hub. All three sites are within a couple miles of each other and provide the visitor with a unique look at a frontier now past.
Ward Indian Village Site - Also called Looking Village, this Mandan village is located on the northwest side of the city of Bismarck on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. It was thought to be occupied between 1500 C.E. and 1600 C.E. when it was abandoned and the residents moved north to the Knife River area.
612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Museum Store: 8am - 5pm M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10am - 5pm.
State Archives: 8am - 4:30pm., M-F, except state holidays, and 2nd Sat. of each month, 10am - 4:30 pm.
State Historical Society offices: 8am - 5pm M-F, except state holidays.
phone: (701) 328-2666
fax: (701) 328-3710