Mandan - Orientation



Identification. The Mandan are an American Indian group located in North Dakota, their aboriginal home. Unlike many Indian tribes, the "Mandan," despite various spellings, have been known by that name since the earliest contact with non-Indians. Although they were sometimes identified by a name belonging to one of the four divisions of Mandan—Nuitadi, Nuptadi, Awigaxa, or Istopa—or by one of the village names, there is no evidence that these were as Significant as "Mandan."

Location. In early historic times, the Mandan lived along the Heart River, a major tributary of the Missouri, in western North Dakota. In 1804, Lewis and Clark found they had moved north and settled on the Knife River. Today, they live in the southern segment of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, about one hundred miles northwest of their original location.

Demography. Prior to the smallpox epidemic of 1837 there were an estimated one thousand Mandan. Although they are no longer enumerated separately, there are probably that many today.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Mandan language belongs to the Siouan language family.


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