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When smallpox reached their stationary, densely populated villages, probably through trading parties from the western Plains, an estimated seventy to eighty percent of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara populations perished.
"The Way to Independence" offers an intimate view into the lives of three members of the Hidatsa tribe, a Siouan people living on the Missouri River in North Dakota at the turn of the century.
The confluence was an ideal location for a trading post, attracting many American Indian tribes from the surrounding areas, including the Assiniboin, Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Chippewa, and Sioux.
When early European explorers and fur traders visited the Dakotas, they reported the sedentary, pallisaded villages of the Arikara in South Dakota, and several Mandan, Hidatsa, and Gros Ventre groups along the Missouri River in North Dakota.
The ten Native American nations represented in the exhibition are the Blackfeet, Comanche, Crow, Hidatsa, Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Southern Cheyenne, Mandan, Nez Perce and Pawnee.
Chapters are partially arranged by tribe, for the first 6 chapters on Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Hidatsa and Mandan, and the Lakota.
The book (first published in 1917; still available in a 1987 reprint edition for under $12) chronicles a year in the agricultural life of an Hidatsa woman, offers sound seed selecting and storing tips, and provides detailed information on cultural practices whose value is every bit as useful to modern gardeners as it was important to a way of life now lost.
All five, the MHA Nation (consisting of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes), the Spirit Lake, the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux, the Standing Rock Sioux and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, are either fully or partially based in North Dakota.
The explorers built the fort in 1804 near the five Knife River villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians in present-day North Dakota.
Wilson."(8) In fact, as Brumble has pointed out, this autobiography was never "told" to Wilson but was compiled from several sources.(9) It chronicles the life of Waheenee-wea, or Buffalo-Bird Woman, an Hidatsa woman approximately eighty-three years old.
The Arapaho referred to it as the wolf dance, the Crow and Hidatsa called it the hot dance, Indians around the Great Lakes labeled it the dream dance, and Utes called it the turkey dance.