“Down by the river, where the water flows cold and clear, I’ll whisper sweet words to you, honey, words you want to hear.”
-Hidatsa courting song
KNIFE RIVER INDIAN VILLAGES, N.D. – The renowned Mandan-Hidatsa flute player shared his people’s songs and stories as listeners huddled around a glowing fire in the earth-covered lodge.
“A young lady might hear a song similar to this along the river,” explained Keith Bear, as he began to play the flute, pausing midway to sing the words from a courtship song before ending the soulful melody with one last breath.
Bear, of the Three Affiliated Tribes, welcomes adventurers to the Knife River villages, a national historic site of the Hidatsa. Nearly 200 years ago, as Lewis and Clark made their landmark expedition to the Pacific Coast, they wintered in the five-village area of the Mandan and Hidatsa people.
This article has permanently moved to In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark