Mandan Village Life
The Mandan lived in well-organized villages of earth lodges, clustered along the banks of the Missouri River. Each lodge housed up to three dozen people—usually groups of adult sisters with their families.
Women owned the contents of the lodges, just as they controlled the produce of their gardens. Men held sway over public spaces and dominated political leadership; they were also responsible for hunting and for protecting the village from intruders.
Although this view of a Mandan village was executed in 1833, a generation after Lewis and Clark visited the upper Missouri River, it captures a scene that closely matches the explorers’ descriptions. Swiss artist Karl Bodmer accompanied Prince Maximilian’s scientific expedition to the Upper Missouri.
Karl Bodmer. “Mandan Village,” from Prince Maximilian
of Wied’s Travels to the Interior of North America, 1843-1844.