Our state museums and historic sites are back open with some changes and guidelines for the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Learn more

SHSND Home > North Dakota History > Unit 2: Life on the Northern Plains Before 1800 > People of the Upper Missouri

Unit 2: Set 1. People of the Upper Missouri

The confluences of the Knife, Heart, and Missouri Rivers in North Dakota have been the home and meeting place of peoples of many cultures for dozen of centuries. Indian hunters roamed the area for several thousand years in search of bison and other large game. For several millennia this region was also a traffic-way for native traders dealing Knife River flint, a translucent, coffee-colored stone quarried along the banks of the Knife and its tributaries to the west. This stone was widely traded throughout much of North America. Beginning about 1,000 years ago, the big-game hunting cultures were replaced by viillage farmers who were the ancestors of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indian tribes. For many generations their villages were the focal point of an extensive trade system, which linked the largely sedentary farmers who dealt in corn and other garden produce with the surrounding foot nomads who dealt in weaponry, clothing, exotic raw materials, and ornaments.

Go to People of the Upper Missouri online exhibit

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
We are open until noon on Christmas Eve.
State Archives: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666
email: history@nd.gov

Social Media:
See all social media accounts