The Mandan – Friends of the Settlers

Mandan women gathering berries.,

Mandan women gathering berries.,

The Mandan villages were assemblages of circular clay-covered log huts placed close together without regard to order. The huts were slightly vaulted and were provided with a sort of portico. In the center of the roof was a square opening for the exit of the smoke, over which was a circular screen made of twigs. The interior was spacious where four strong pillars near the middle and several crossbeams supported the roof. The dwelling was covered outside with matting made of willows and twigs, over which was laid hay or grass, and then a covering of earth. The beds stood against the wall of the hut consisting of a large square case made of parchment or skins, with a square entrance, and large enough to hold several persons, who lied very conveniently and warm on skins and blankets.

The Mandan cultivated maize, beans, gourds, and sunflowers, as well as manufacturing earthenware, the clay being tempered with flint or granite reduced to powder by the action of fire. Polygamy was common among them. Their beliefs and ceremonies were generally similar to those of the Plains tribes. The Mandan were always friendly to the United States and beginning in 1866 a number of the men served as scouts.

In Lewis and Clark’s time the Mandan were estimated to number 1,250, and in 1837 1,600, but were reduced by smallpox to between 125 and 150. By the turn of the century, the Mandan people was estimated at about 250.

There were the following divisions, which seem to have corresponded with their villages before the Mandan consolidated:

Horatamumake (Kharatanunanke)
Matonumake (Matonumanke)
Seepooshka (Sipushkanumanke)
Tanatsuka (Tanetsukanumanke)
Kitanemake (Khitanumanke)
Estapa (Histapenumanke)


Today, the Mandan are a part of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, located in New Town, North Dakota.

Mandan Indian atop the bluffs of the Missouri River

Mandan Indian atop the bluffs of the Missouri River

Contact Information:

Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation
404 Frontage Road
New Town, North Dakota 58763

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October 2019/

The Arikara Tribe – Indians With Horns

The Hidatsa Tribe – North Dakota Pioneers

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

MHA Nation Photo Gallery

Native American Tribes List

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