Honoring Native American Heritage Month in North Dakota

SPECIAL TO DEVILS LAKE  JOURNAL

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, immerse yourself in the rich history of the tribes with the most influence on today’s North Dakota: the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA Nation); the Yanktonai, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Hunkpapa and other Dakota/Lakota/Nakota (commonly known as Sioux) tribes; and the Chippewa and Metis. All are invited to explore the culture, traditions, and historical developments of these tribal nations at attractions and points of interest across the state.

Witness history written in stone with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Taking its name from a sacred rock formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back, Standing Rock holds the history of the Dakota and Lakota nations. While in the area, visit the original burial ground for Hunkpapa Lakota leader, Sitting Bull.

Then travel to Bismarck to see the Native American influence on today’s state. The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum features a gallery devoted to the preservation of Native American history and artifacts. Here you can learn more about tribal leaders like Sitting Bull, consider how inventions like the bow and arrow aided the first hunters, and examine the intricate details of textiles, moccasins, and more. Don’t miss the exquisite 6-foot by 20-foot hand-painted panoramic mural of Double Ditch Indian Village circa 1550. Cross the river to visit On-A-Slant Indian Village where you can step inside a reconstructed earth lodge.

Explore Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site where the Hidatsa and Mandan last occupied in 1845. Complete your stop at this historic site with a visit to the modern museum, visitor center, Hidatsa earth lodge and the remains of three Hidatsa villages with 210 depressions. As this village is where Sakakawea first met Lewis and Clark, further your educational tour at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Continue north towards New Town to take in the history of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, or the Three Affiliated Tribes. While the three tribes combined forces, they still maintained their unique cultural identities, ceremonies, clan systems, and bands. Tour the MHA Nation Interpretive Center to learn more about the preservation of each tribe and discover the devastation that brought them together.

Near the border of the United States and Canada, lies the home of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center features traditions from the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) people and the Metis/Cree people. Study the history preserved in the written documents and artifacts made available for use by the Turtle Mountain people and those who wish to learn more about the Tribe and its unique cultural heritage. Find more of their history and culture around Devils Lake.

Although derived from the Native American word Minnewaukan, early explorers incorrectly translated the word to mean “Bad Spirit.” Supported by the many legends of drowned warriors and lake monsters, the name evolved into Devils Lake. Survey the grounds of the Fort Totten State Historic Site with the help of a self-guided itinerary from the perspective of a young Chippewa or Dakota student, soldier, or teacher. Based on oral histories collected from Spirit Lake tribal members and other 19th and 20th century accounts, these tours will allow you to experience life at Fort Totten as each person may have lived it.

To learn more about each tribe’s vast history, culture, traditions, and unique impact on the lands of today’s North Dakota, visit a historic site, a museum, or sit down for a conversation with local historians or tribal members themselves. Visit https://www.ndtourism.com/content/discover-native-american-culture or begin planning your journey with our day-by-day itinerary at https://www.medialibrary.nd.gov/assetbank-nd/assetfile/76274.pdf.

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