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Winter Village of the Minatarees

When the Americans arrived among the Mandans and Hidatsas in the last days of October 1804, the villages were preparing for winter. The communities had begun to withdraw into their heavily-insulated earth lodges for the winter and to make use of their stores of dried beans, corn, squash, and meat. These enterprising people were also prepared to draw on surpluses to engage in trade with outsiders. “We had everything,” consultant Frederick Baker recently declared, “and we were always open—we were better than Wal-Mart!”

This lithograph by the Swiss artist Karl Bodmer was based on sketches made at Fort Clark, an American Fur Company post built in 1834 across the river from Lewis and Clark’s former camp. At the time, the Hidatsas were alternately called “Minatarees.”

Karl Bodmer. “Winter Village of the Minatarres [sic],” from Prince Maximilian of Wied’s Travels to the Interior of North America, 1843-44.

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