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Expedition - Smallpox

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Smallpox drawing from winter countWhile tribes on the upper Missouri were no strangers to smallpox prior to the Lewis and Clark expedition, the 1837 outbreak proved to be particularly devastating. The Mandan were nearly totally wiped out by the disease, and considerable numbers of Hidatsa were similarly affected. Besides the obvious social and cultural ramifications, the disease caused the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa to combine forces for survival when they established Like-a-Fish-Hook village. The 1837 event proved so catastrophic that the Mandan and Hidatsa never again had as great a role among northern plains tribes. In addition to that, the advent of the reservation and allotment system was less than a generation away and it would wreak its own brand of havoc on Native Peoples.

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