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Menoken Indian Village State Historic Site - History

Three types of pits occur at the house: (1) symmetrical, prepared round or flat-bottomed pits found near the entrance and inside the house, (2) a single large, Plains Village style bell-shaped pit behind the house, and (3) shallow trash-filled basins behind and beside the house. Flint cobbles and large stone tools were stored or cached in the rear of or behind the house. A few small surface hearths occur outside the house. The collapsed, burned roof fall layer was charged with artifacts, particularly large stone objects, indicating that the roof may have been low-pitched and used as a working and activity area.

Excavations of this house tell us much about the use of space and materials within. Red ochre, a coloring agent, was found along the northwest side of the house. A large hearth lies near the center of the house, and contained charcoal of elm, box elder, oak and willow. These same woods, along with ash, were used for building House 2. From this, we conclude that in AD 1200 elm and box elder probably dominated timber stands along nearby Apple Creek.

Knife River Flint

Crowley (Knife River) Flint QuarryMenoken villagers needed tools for their daily tasks, just as we do today. Important to them were stone implements such as arrowpoints, knives, scrapers, drills, and planes. Chippable stone is uncommon near Menoken Village, so trade with neighbors closer to stone sources or travel to the sources was necessary.

The closest abundant stone source (Tongue River silicified sediment-TRSS) was about thirty miles to the southwest, but this rock makes up only one percent of the excavated sample. The stone type of choice was Knife River flint, making up 90 percent of the artifacts. Knife River flint is most abundant at quarries at least sixty miles west of here. Knife River flint is very high quality stone that is relatively easy to work and holds an edge.

Menoken residents were not alone in their strong dedication to the use of Knife River flint. Many other archaeological sites that date to the same era share this feature. Some of these sites were occupied by Woodland peoples, who were hunter-gathers, and some by Plains Village peoples, who were hunter-farmers. The shared focus of both cultures on Knife River flint as a source for the vast majority of their tools required some combination of travel and exchange, linking them regardless of lifestyle and language.

1 1/2 miles NE of Menoken,
10 miles E of Bismarck, ND.
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Open year round.

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phone: 701.328.2666
fax: 701.328.3710
email: history@nd.gov