Mandan Indian Village
In July 2008, while visiting Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota, I visited the reconstructed Mandan Indian Village. You must purchase a separate ticket for a guided tour of the village. It was raining lightly as I drove to the portion of the park the Indian village is located. I checked for the next tour time and it was about twenty minutes away. I went inside a small office/history center and checked out the exhibits. The center was clean and well laid out. The young ladies working inside were friendly and were able to answer my questions.
When I exited, tour guide was right on time. He was extremely knowledgeable of both the Mandan Indian culture and the US Army of Fort Abraham Lincoln's era. I also discovered he was a fellow Hoosier from Bloomington, Indiana. I reside in Indianapolis.
The Mandan were a culture that lived along the banks of the Missouri River. Unlike most Plains Indian tribes, the Mandan built permanent villages. Instead of living a nomadic existence, the Mandan grew crops in addition to hunting. The Mandan were also a light skinned tribe, where the women claimed ownership of the completed huts. Sadly, I was told by a guide the last fullblood Mandan Indian died in 1995.
As I approached the village I was astonished at the size of the dwellings. The lodge was circular with a domed roof and a square hole at the apex to allow smoke to escape. The exterior was covered by reeds and twigs, covered with hay and earth. The lodge also featured a portico-type structure at the entrance. The interior consisted of four large pillars with crossbeams supporting the roof.
The largest hut we entered was a community or government type of building. There were numerous exhibits in the huts including informational exhibits and artifacts. The village was surrounded by a stockade fence much like you see in the movies surrounding the US Army forts in the west.