North Dakota Eclectics


The Arikaras were a Pawnee tribe that moved into North Dakota from the south, being pushed along by the Sioux. They are believed to have been descendants of the Pueblo Indians, who Coronado, the Spanish explorer, found in Arizona. Due, in large part, to frequent hostilities between the Arikaras and the Sioux, they did not remain long in any one place. In 1770, the Arikaras were living along the Sheyenne River in the area of South Dakota. Lewis and Clark found them there, in three villages on the Missouri River, between the Grand River in South Dakota and the Cannonball River in North Dakota. They also had a village across the river from Washburn, which they inhabited and abandoned several times prior to 1830, finally moving to the former Mandan village at Old Fort Clark after a smallpox epidemic had decimated most of the Mandans in 1838, remaining there until about 1850, when they joined the Mandans and the Hidatsas at Fort Berthold. By that time, their own number had been reduced by smallpox and hostilities with the Sioux, from about 2,600 to only 380. The Sioux were their greatest enemy, and mostly they were on peaceful terms with the Americans, allied with them during the Sioux wars. However, they were included in the treaties between the United States government and the Mandans and Hidatsas, and confined to Fort Berthold.

One difference between the Arikaras and the Mandans and Hidatsas was in the manner in which they treated their dead. Rather than placing their dead on scaffolds, above ground, they buried their dead soon after death, generally in shallow graves.

Of Interest