March 12, 2002

In the footsteps of Lewis and Clark


Author: Jodi Rave Lee, Lincoln Star Journal

“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

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