TTH- Earthlodges, Big Buffalo & A Woodchipper

 Hidatsa earthlodge at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Hidatsa earthlodge at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

After a quick morning walk through the On-A-Slant Village, we headed to Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Again, this is one of those out-of-the-way national park historic sites that we found somewhat interesting, but could have probably given a pass. We appreciate learning about the culture and society of Hidatsa native peoples and it certainly needs to be preserved, but there really wasn’t all that much to see beyond the reconstructed earthlodge, the small exhibit area inside the visitor’s center and the earth mounds where the village used to be located on the Knife River.

knife-river_hidatsa village-catlin 1830.JPG

The ‘furnished’ reconstructed earthlodge provided a look into the homelife of these farming people. Things like beds off the floor with canopies, decorated parfleche (a leather satchel or bag) for storing possessions off the floor, an indoor root cellar and central heating (a campfire pit in the middle of the lodge with a vent for the smoke to escape) were pretty ingenious.

We walked the mile long trail past the remains of the old Hidatsa village, but only mounds remain leaving the rest to your imagination. Catlin and Bodmer paintings and illustrations along with our previous visit to the Mandan village replica helped envision the layout.

 Takes a bit of imagination to view this field with indentations and mounds which was once the bustling village that Catlin painted in the 1830s.

Takes a bit of imagination to view this field with indentations and mounds which was once the bustling village that Catlin painted in the 1830s.

One key fact we learned was that Sacakawea (aka Sacagewea), was at this village when Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery passed the winter here in 1804. Sacakawea and her French-Canadian husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, along with their infant son, were enlisted by Lewis & Clark to accompany them as translators.

jamestown_buffalo museum sign.JPG

Via backways and byways, we headed to Jamestown, a small, but pleasant town which is home to the world’s largest buffalo … which, could not, of course, be missed. Not only was the largest buffalo a resident, but also the National Buffalo Museum was located nearby and touted a white buffalo.

 World's largest buffalo - Jamestown, ND

World's largest buffalo - Jamestown, ND

The world’s largest buffalo was … well, very large. The Buffalo Museum was mediocre as museums go. The highlight of the museum was White Cloud, a white buffalo taxidermied and on display in a plastic case. Don’t fret … she died of natural causes in 2016 and was preserved to be admired for generations to come. Her progeny, Dakota Miracle, was in the resident buffalo herd which did not make an appearance while we visited. Read about the Legend of the White Buffalo here.

 White Cloud at the National Buffalo Museum

White Cloud at the National Buffalo Museum

We spent the night at Fort Frontier RV park which was cheap and convenient and we got what we paid for … not much. We were cheek and jowl close to neighbors on a small, colorless gravel plot without picnic table or anything for that matter except a loathsome view of the burgeoning dumpster and a less than elegant toilet block. Enough said.

We were fortunate enough the next morning to have the opportunity to catch up with Karla, Good Old Boat’s CEO and Brenda, Director of Circulation. We’d corresponded with them many times, but never met. It’s always great to put faces with a names.

 L-R: David, Marcie, Karla & Brenda at Good Old Boat World Headquarters

L-R: David, Marcie, Karla & Brenda at Good Old Boat World Headquarters

We were off to Fargo next and had a predetermined agenda … a stop at the Visitor’s Center to take a look at the one and only woodchipper from the movie ‘Fargo’, autographed by the Coen Brothers! There it was in full view just waiting for a photo opportunity. Were we impressed? Oh, you betcha’!

woodchipper from Fargo

We inquired as to the other highlights of Fargo we could see in just one day, though we doubted they could top the woodchipper. Both the downtown mural art and the Hjemkomst (Kum-komst) Center were highly recommended. We have our marching orders.