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Knife River Indian Villages

Knife River Indian Villages




Location: Stanton, ND  Map

Area: 1,758 acres (7.11 km²)

Open: 8am- 6pm Memorial Day- Labor Day

8am- 4:30pm Winter time

Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, 1 Jan

Entrance Fee: Free




Description of Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is an open air ethnographic museum on a site of three former Native American villages situated half a mile North of a town of Stanton in North Dakota along County Road 37. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site covers a total area of 1,758 acres (7.11 km²) along the Missouri River. Plains Indians that lived here had three major settlements that included Big Hidatsa, Awatixa Xi’e and Awatixa villages. The most famous resident of the villages was a Native woman Sacagawea who belonged to Lemhi Shoshone tribe. She joined Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804- 1806) that explored newly acquired lands as a result of a Louisiana Purchase of 1803 from French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Her expertise and knowledge of survival in the wilderness as well as her ability to interact with other natives helped American explorers to reach the Pacific Ocean.

Knife River Villages will dispel the myth that Plains Natives were entirely nomadic tribes and lived in teepees. Some of their houses were quiet complex and ingenious in their design. Native dwellings were circular in shape and some reached a diameter of 40 feet or 12 metres. Wooden dome would support soil that covered the house. It provided good isolation for its residents and kept the temperature cool in summers and warmer in cold winters. Several families could live under one roof along with their pets. Some of their houses have collapsed, but their general outline is still visible in the ground. Some of the houses are reconstructed to give an impression of what it was like to live here.

These villages were thriving due to trade with the Europeans. However smallpox outbreak of 1837- 1840 greatly unaffected local peoples. Death rate reached 90% among various tribes that had any contact with outsiders. Eventually villages were abandoned. Survivors left their settlements and moved to Like-a-Fish-Hook village.








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