Ripsy Walkabout travel blog

This is the town closest to the Knife River Site. I thought...

A reconstructed Hidatsa earth lodge

Interior of the lodge

My trip is now starting to get really interesting. Up until now many sites have been closed or they are just conjecture--Lewis & Clark were somewhere in the area. Starting on Wednesday I've been able to visit actual confirmed historic sites.

The most interesting is the Knife River Historic Site which consists of three distinct Hidatsa Indian villages dating back to the 18th century before any contact with the whites. The villages no longer exist, of course, but the mounds where their distinct earth lodges were are still clearly visible.

Most interesting is the fact that Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who accompanied the expedition, lived in one of these villages with her husband a french fur trapper. Her tribe's homeland was near the Rocky Mountains but she was captured in a raid by the Hidatsa when she was 12 years old. When Lewis & Clark met her she was approximately 15-16 years old and pregnant (the child would be born on the trail). They enlisted the services of her and her husband as translators, but were particularly intrigued by her ability to speak the language of tribes they would encounter out west.

She played a significant role in the success of the mission and even saved all of the extensive journals when one of the canoes capsized.

In an ironic twist that I love, Lewis & Clark parted ways with her on the return trip at the Knife River village 205 years to the day that I was there. I was standing there looking at the grassy mounds trying to imagine that taking place. It was pretty cool.

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