Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

For more than 500 years the  Awatixa, Awaxawi, and Hidatsa Native American tribes lived in Upper Missouri River valley in villages on terraces above the river in the summer and in the flat land along the river in the winter where trees and the cliffs blocked the winter winds. The summer villages could have up to 120 lodges each sheltering between 10-30 people.
This was an important central location for a trading network that stretched from the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast, and the Northwest Pacific Coast. The local tribes acted as middlemen. Items traded included beans, corn, hides, tobacco, tools, and shells. After contact with Europeans guns, cloth, manufactured beads, and iron pots were introduced. A smallpox epidemic in 1837 decimated the tribes and by 1870 most of the people were living in the Fort Berthold Reservation which covers a small portion of their original territory.
The historical site has a visitor center, a reconstruction of an Hidatsa lodge, and a trail to the village sites. The visitor center and lodge are accessible. The trail to the villages is crush gravel and my be accessible with help. Due to cool, windy weather we did not go on the trail.
The parking lot has long RV spaces. Historic Site  47.33128, -101.38643


  1. I was surprised to see this and wondered how we'd missed it, before seeing that it wasn't referring to Knife River, MN. Looks cool.

    1. We'd like to go back someday when the weather is nicer to see the village locations on the river flats.