Mandan villages were the center of the social, spiritual, and economic lives of the Mandan Indians. Villages were strategically located on bluffs overlooking the river for defense purposes, limiting attacks to one land approach. The Mandan lived in earth lodges, which are extremely large, round huts that are 15 feet high and 40-60 feet in diameter. Each hut had a vestibule entrance, much like the pattern of an Eskimo igloo, and a square hole on top, which served as a smokestack. Each earth lodge housed 10-30 people and their belongings, and villages contained 50-120 earth lodges. The frame of an earth lodge was made from tree trunks, which were covered with criss-crossed willow branches. Over the branches they placed dirt and sod, which coined the term earth lodge. This type of construction made the roofs strong enough to support people on nights of good weather. The floors of earth lodges were made of dirt and the middle was dug out to make a bench around the outer edge of the lodge. Encompassing...
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...s and the Hidatsas, who were also plagued with disease. To this day many Mandan Indians live near Mandan, North Dakota right across the Missouri River from Bismarck, North Dakota. Every year the Mandan Indians and several other area tribes have a pow wow where they perform dances and sell jewelry and food for audiences from all around the world. Fort Lincoln State Park Mandan Village is a park located just outside Mandan that has a small village of actual earth lodges that visitors can walk into and see. Visitors feel like they have been taken back into a part of history because all the items one would have found during that time are in the lodges. One lodge even has a man (not real) hanging from the rafters representing the Okipa Ceremony. The park is a truly amazing sight to see and keeps the memory alive and well about the Mandan Indians heritage and way of life.
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