Arikara Hunting Party

Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota

View north, upstream

Aerial view of Fort Yates

© 2000 Airphoto—Jim Wark


On 15 October 1804 Lewis and Clark and their party camped somewhere near the island seen at upper right. For the past two weeks they had been in the homeland of the Arikara, or Sahnish, people, who lived in earth lodges and raised corn, beans, pumpkins, watermelons, squashes, and mild Indian tobacco. To these friendly people, Sergeant Ordway reported, "the Greatest Curiosity . . . was York," Clark's black slave. "The children would follow after him, & if he turned towards them they would run from him & hollow as if they were terreyfied, & afraid of him."

Hunting Party

Proceeding upriver the following day, the Corps observed an Indian strategy for hunting game. As men on horseback herded pronghorns—"goats or Antelope," Clark called them—into the river, boys swam among them and killed some with sticks, while others on shore shot them with bows and arrows. "I saw 58 Killed in this way," wrote Clark.

By 1845 the ravages of disease and ongoing warfare with the Sioux forced the Arikaras to move up the Missouri and settle among the Mandans and Hidatsas in North Dakota. In 1868 the Great Sioux Nation took over this land under the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the boundaries of their once vast domain were steadily reduced during the subsequent forty years until only today's isolated and impoverished Standing Rock Reservation was left. Its headquarters are here at Fort Yates, North Dakota, on an island in Lake Oahe. Today, four bands of Sioux subsist marginally on the 562,000-acre reservation: Sihasapa, Hunkpapa, Lower Yanktonai, and Upper Yanktonai.


From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark

Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press