New Town, North Dakota   Leave a comment

Day 20, was a travel day from Bismarck to New Town, ND. On the way, we stopped several times. Our first stop was in Washburn, North Dakota, at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan.

Ft. Mandan played a very important part of the Lewis & Clark expedition as this is where they stayed over the winter months when the Indians warned them that they would never make it over the mountains before the snow.

Also Sacagawea (spelled many different ways) delivered her baby boy at this location. The officers had “their space” pictured below right.

While the enlisted men slept in the loft area (pictured below). There were approximately 50 men at the fort plus the Indian guests. It sure must have been cozy.

The Ft. itself was a reconstructed version of the closest point to the original site as they could put it. The original site is believed to be currently in the middle of the Missouri River. Maybe after the Missouri River shifts, in another few hundred years, they’ll be able to locate the original site.

Further down the road was Knife River Indian Village. We saw a great 15 min. film about the Plains Indian tribes narrated by an ancestor of the Indians. She told of her memories as a very young girl about their rituals and lifestyle. She talked about how they wintered near the river in their temporary tepees and during the summer months they lived on the plains. We learned that the Indian women were in charge of making the houses. The men would place the main posts, which were very large and was the structural frame of the house. The women completed the rest of the house. This is a picture of just the doorway. They didn’t call it a doorway, however, they called it the mouth. The earth lodge was like a face.

An Indian woman had to prove herself to have the honor of leading in the building of the lodge. She would then be the head of the house. The lodges were built to last about 10 years.

The temporary winter shelters along the river usually only lasted a year as they would be destroyed upon their return. They also tended to the gardens, which included sitting on a wooden frame rack, singing to the crops (as they believe they had a soul and singing to them would help them to grow) and throwing stones at critters or anyone trying to steal their crops.

Lower Hidatsa Village covers about 10 acres with at least 51 visible depressions. 500-600 people lived at the site occupied during 1525-1785.

Sakakawea Village may have covered about 6 acres with at least 31 visible depressions, with some of the depressions lost to river erosion. It was occupied from 1790 to 1834.

Big Hidatsa Village covers about 15.5 acres with at least 113 visible depressions. Between 810 and 1,200 people lived at this site, occupied from 1400-1845.

While driving through North Dakota, we noticed A LOT of “new” oil drilling going on. We found out that with the price of oil so high and they have a new method called “horizontal drilling” which makes it well worth their while to drill for oil. Some of the farmers are becoming millionaires bringing in 800 barrels of oil per day!

Driving through North Dakota and into Montana was so different from the East Coast I could not stop taking pictures of how far you could see the road ahead & the hills, or mounds, or bluffs, or whatever they call them.

Day 21, New Town was just a one nighter, where we stayed at an Indian casino. I’ve never been
in an “Indian” casino before so I went in to check it out, along with my allotted $20. Well, it’s quite different than what I’m used to. It’s far from luxurious and there was no noise coming from the area of the slot machines, which to me means NO ONE IS WINNING! So I never even ventured in that room. The next morning when I went over to find a cup of coffee, EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING was closed! Casino included! I guess the Indians do things differently, at least in North Dakota.

We also learned to NOT buy fuel at the Indian casino near the oil boom! $4.65/gallon for diesel is “highway robbery.” Most stations were running $3.85 in North Dakota, the farther we got away from the oil boom, the cheaper the fuel. Seems people from all over the country are coming to work in the oil fields. We were told Texas was paying $12.50/hr. for the same work being done in N.D. at $22/hr. Needless to say, all the businesses are cashing in on the boom too.

On to Fort Peck, Montana. Enroute we stopped at Fort Union Trading Post.

Fort Union attracted more renowned people than any other fur trading post. The fort’s busiest years were 1830-1850, employing up to 100 people. Fort Union was an internationally known trading post.

The traders would be wined, dined, and smoking of a pipe prior to negotiations.
Since the fort was dismantled and taken down river to build another Fort Benton there is very little that is original. The fireplace is original. Also the color of paint on the bourgeois (he is the man in charge of the post) house, red, white, blue, and green are the original colors used.

Before leaving, our guests we asked to help out on the buffalo hide.

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Posted June 8, 2012 by carolnbill in Adventure Caravans, RV, Travel

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