In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark
From Illinois to the Pacific
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Sept. 13, Day 8, Mandan, ND to Medora, ND

This morning we visited North Dakota's capitol and Cultural Heritage Museum..


L&C Interpretive Center at Washburn, ND

Reconstructed Fort Mandan

Knife River Indian Villages, Stanton, ND

Amy's Journal

Day 8, Sunday, Sept. 13, Mandan, ND to Medora, ND – 225 miles, total 1504
This was an early-start day departing at 7:30 am to visit the North Dakota Heritage Center.  It was well worth the early effort as the exhibits were organized in historical sequence and clearly labeled. In 1999, Tyler Lyson, a high school sophomore, discovered Dakota – a Duck Bill Dinosaur – which is currently on exhibit in Japan. 

Oil is a great asset to the North Dakota economy.  The Legislature approved an 8-million expansion to the Heritage Center.  The center has been collecting objects since 1895’ the present center opened in 1981.  There is no admission charge.  They have many visits from student and schools.  

We would have liked another hour there, but we pressed on with our busy day, driving on to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn, ND.  Jeff Carlson was our very helpful guide and followed us through the center to answer our questions.  We saw the dugout canoe. Lewis & Clark learned much from the Mandan Indians.  From this point west the Captains began exploring new territory for which they had little prior information.

 A wonderful exhibit of Prince Maximillian, the German explorer who came in the 1830 s to study the Indians.  He published a journal of his years in the US with illustrations by a Swiss artist, Karl Bodmer, whose images of Indians include ritual dances, landscapes familiar to the Plains tribes.  His work is detaialed, haunting and breathtaking.  The colors Bodmer used are alternately subtle and vivid.  Looking at his illustrations, you gain knowledge about costume, weaponry, body decoration and other matters related to the Indians.   

At 11:05 we rushed on to our next stop, Fort Mandan.  Historian Tom brought our flag.  We raised it on the Fort flagpole and sang the Star Spangled Banner.  Our guide, Alexis said it took 800 to 1,000 cottonwood trees to build Fort Mandan.  She described the Fort rooms:  blacksmith shop, guard’s room, interpreter’s room (Sakakawea, Charboneau, and York (?).  Jean Baptiste (Sakakawea’s son) who was born Feb. 11, 1805).  Next the Captains’ room, storerooms and private/enlisted men’s rooms (8-9 to a room). 

We finished our visit with a nice picnic on the Fort grounds.  Weather was perfect, sunny and breezy.  Then we each gave our Indian names recorded by Beverly.  On the bus we watched a video on Buffalo Bird woman, a Hidatsa. 

At 12:30 we departed for the Knife River Villages.  We walked to the river to oversee the evidence of where the earth lodges had been built.  Then Ranger Ella Matheson gave us a detailed presentation of the role Indian men and women carried out.  Men did 24/7 protection of the village.  Women made major contributions completing, building and decorating the lodges.  Bedposts were secured to the ground so as not to move.  The Medicine Religious Shrine was used only the Indian responsible for the spiritual rites.  The brought their horses into the lodges to keep them safe.  Their crops were sunflowers, beans, corn, and squash.  The garden tools were made with the shoulder bone of the buffalo attached to a handle; white-tail antlers were used to dig.  The raised enough food to trade for flint, mirrors, cloth, pots and pans, alcohol. 

In 1839 a smallpox epidemic hit the village.  In six months two of ten lived.  More problems followed.  In 185l the US government wanted the Treaty of Fort Laramie signed.  Indians were promised land and provisions for 50 years.  Railroads then allowed the 1852 Homestead Act by President Lincoln and the 1880’s DAWES Allotment Act gave 160 acres, designed to separate the Indians.  Of course, they did not have tools to such land – no water wells, no money for wagons or horses.  Then they were forced into sending their children to boarding schools, causing social and family disruption.  And in 1934 the Indian Reorganization Act was meant to teach Indians to govern themselves.   In the 1950’s the Missouri River was dammed causing immense emotional trauma to the Indians.  Tribal leaders wept.  And so the litany of broken promises and broken treaties totally demoralized the American Indian culture. Currently Ranger Ella sees hope among the Indians at recent Pow Wows.  They are seeking to reconnect with their Indian tribe cultures and languages and to better their lives.

 We departed the village, setting our watches to Mountain Time while driving to Painted Canyon Scenic Overlook in the ND Badlands, On the way Dick, our geologist, contributed the basics of celestial navigation, using the sextant, which measures angles.  He explained longitude and latitude.  He related that Andrew Ellicot, one of the foremost surveyors in the US, helped Lewis with measuring location of all places explored. On our way, Tom pointed out the interesting geese sculpture along I-94 (at exit 72) Painted Canyon Scenic Overlook was a spectacular panorama.  Clouds dimmed some of the canyon; however, light broke through the clouds and created a moving-life changing scene.  Wind was very strong at the observation deck. 

Our day ended with dinner at the Chuckwagon Buffet. We are staying at the Badlands Motel, with a little local color of locomotive sounds coming through Medora periodically. This area is in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I read that he came to North Dakota after his first wife’s death and his mother’s death occurred on the same day. He was devastated and he found fulfillment in the “strenuous life” that he lived in North Dakota. I have seen his sayings carved in the great lobby of the NY Museum of Natural History. He was the reason that great institution was founded, and he made many contributions to it. In the Dakota Territory he became alarmed by the damage that was being done to the land and its wildlife. He witnessed the destruction of some big game species. Conservation increasingly became one of Roosevelt’s major concerns. 

He pursued this interest in natural history by establishing the US Forest Service by signing the 1906 Antiquities Act, which proclaimed 18 National Monuments. He got congressional approval for the establishment of 5 National Parks and 51 Wildlife Refuges and set aside land as National Forests.

 Douglas Brinkley, the historian, has just published Teddy’s biography, Wilderness Warrior, which details all of TR’s conservation work. I saw the author, Brinkley, interviewed for one hour on C-Span. He feels this is his best work and he spent several years completing it.

Download Amy's Complete Journal in Word or PDF

Est. 1284 + Bismarck, ND to Medora, ND  203 = 1487
Actual: 1279 + 225 =1504

copyright 2006 DeLorme ( Topo USA®

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