Where Did the Mandan Indians Live?


Quick Answer

The Mandan Indians lived in forests along the Missouri River in what is now the south-central region of North Dakota. They shared central North Dakota lands with the Arikara tribe to the south and the Hidatsa tribe to the north. Present-day Mandans are enrolled in the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation located in New Town, North Dakota. About half of the descendants of the original Mandan tribe still live in central North Dakota.

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Full Answer

The Mandans lived directly north of the Great Plains and traveled there to hunt buffalo, which played an important part in the Mandan economy and culture. Though the Mandans traveled to the Great Plains twice yearly on buffalo hunting expeditions, they were primarily an agricultural tribe and made their permanent home in the fertile Missouri River valley area.

When Lewis and Clark traveled through the upper Missouri River valley in the winter of 1804, Mandan guides received and assisted them. The Mandans were such gracious hosts that the expedition party stayed on until spring. In honor of their benefactors, the party named the settlement Fort Mandan. The site is now the town of Washburn, North Dakota.

Fort Clark in central North Dakota was home to a Mandan settlement before it became an American outpost in 1830. In 1986, the National Register of Historic Places named Fort Clark a protected archaeological site. Many features of the Mandan homes and graves on the site are still intact. The present-day town of Mandan, North Dakota, was founded in 1879 and named in honor of the tribe. Mandan is located near Bismarck, North Dakota.

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