The French Explorer La Verendrye Describes the Mandan People
“They keep the streets and open spaces very clean. Their fort is surrounded with a ditch fifteen feet deep and from fifteen to eighteen feet wide. Built slightly higher than the ground around, they enter the fort on steps made of pieces of wood which they can remove when threatened by an enemy. This fortification has nothing ‘savage’ about it.
The whole tribe is very industrious. Their dwellings are large and spacious, divided into several apartments with wide planks. Nothing is lying about; all their belongings are placed in large bags hung on posts. Their beds are made in the form of tombs and are surrounded by skins.
Their fort is very well provided with cellars, where they store all they have in the way of grains, meat, fat, dressed skins, and bearskins. They have a great stock of these things, which form the money of the country.
They make wickerwork very skillfully, both trays and baskets. They use earthen pots that they make, like many other nations, for cooking food. They are for the most part great eaters, and are very fond of feasts.
The men are large and tall, very active, and the greater part fairly good looking. They have fine features and are very affable. Most of the women do not have Indian features. The men play a kind of ball game on the open spaces and ramparts of the fort.”
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.