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From Sitting Bull to Sakakawea, North Dakota is steeped in Native American history. The state also offers several opportunities to engage with and learn about Native American culture thanks to the over 30,000 registered tribal members who live nearby. Visit one of the many Native American museums and cultural centers in the state, attend a forthcoming powwow (the majority are held from late June through early September), or both to truly experience Native American culture.
In North Dakota, the following are some of the top ways to experience Native American culture:
VISIT A POWWOW
The Native American term that some of the first Europeans linked with dancing was the Algonquin word “pau wau.” The name, subsequently written “powwow,” originally meant “medicine man,” but it was later embraced by Europeans to refer to dancing and gatherings.
The events are occasions for people to come together, sing, dance, feast, pray, renew old friendships, and form new ones. They also frequently have religious importance. Many Native Americans still consider these festivals to be significant aspects of their culture.
At present-day powwows, attendees will take part in a multi-day event that includes traditional song and dance performances, traditional foods (as well as some “country fair” favorites), and vendors selling arts and crafts. VISIT HISTORIC LOCATIONS AND MUSEUMS
Visitors can get a hands-on and educational overview of Native American history and culture in the state at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, which is located on the grounds of the state legislative building in Bismarck.
Its collection of Plains Indian artifacts is among the biggest in the country, second only to the Smithsonian. The Native American Hall of Honors, which includes a replica of Double Ditch Indian Village and a museum of notable Native Americans from North Dakota, is one noteworthy exhibit.
The actual ruins of Double Ditch Indian Village and several more Native American villages may then be seen north of the city on the hills overlooking the Missouri River. All that is left of the sizable Mandan earthlodge village are visible depressions. Visitors can better comprehend the history of this intriguing community with the help of interpretive signs.
Chief Looking’s Village in Bismarck, which offers a captive view of the Missouri River, Huff Indian Village in Huff, and Sitting Bull Visitor Center, a memorial to the illustrious Lakota chief, at Fort Yates are additional historic villages that provide an authentic look at how Native Americans lived.
Near Mandan, Bismarck’s sister city, on the Missouri River’s banks is Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. The On-A-Slant Indian Village, which formerly housed a vibrant Mandan Native American community who lived in earthlodges along the river, is part of the park’s more than 300-year history. Visitors can tour a number of restored lodges to get a feel for what life was like for the Mandan people back then.
Many of the meetings between the explorers Lewis and Clark and the Native Americans in North Dakota—who were traveling down the Missouri River—have become significant moments in American history. Sakakawea lived at the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton before she enlisted in the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Hidatsa and Mandan vacated Knife River Village in 1845, and the national historic site is now home to a stunning, cutting-edge museum and educational center devoted to preserving their culture.
source north dakota tourism division