Jay and Gina's Blog
Bismarck to Medora ND
We had a foggy, cool start to our drive. The fog continued along the Missouri River.
The first stop was at the North Dakota Heritage Center. The Dakota dinosaur was discovered by a teenager and later excavated by a team formed by the teenager when he was older. In looking at the replica of how the bones looked when found, I realized that I would never recognize a large skeleton - looks like a rock to me.
There was a great map of ND showing the Lewis and Clark route, demonstrating how the river looked then and now as a result of the damming that has been done.
The bird exhibit was very good. I noted that the grebes there were quite cute, looking like they had a bad hair day. Our bird looker on the trip informed me that all of them don’t have the distinctive hairdo. She just handed me the bird book so that I would know what they looked like. She had noted them in her list of seen birds, so I had noted them in the display because I had no idea what they were.
Also noted the local spelling of Sakakawea. Some books state that she was “hired” (actually her husband was the guide, and paid as such - she wasn’t paid anything) as a guide, but she was really needed as a translator with her native tribe when horses would be needed to continue the journey.
As we cruised along, I saw an old fashioned wind mill. Immediately on the left a flock of modern day wind mills(electrical generators) were visible. We were reminded of the turbines in Spain. Jay commented that batches of these things make him think of the War of the Worlds. Lovely sunflowers and rolling mowed fields continue to be our vista.
Tom continued to read from the journals for us - Buffalo dance described. The younger women were given by their mates to the older men as part of the celebration. It was thought to bring the buffaloes closer - the winters WERE long and boring. When published, this section of the journals was translated into Latin as it was felt that the “normal folks” would find the description too graphic.
Sakakawea’s son was born in February. Her labor was finally speeded along with the use of Rattle Snake rattles, ground up and mixed in water. I had read about that use by the doctor Arrow Rock, MO.
The next stop was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, ND. We couldn’t go to Ft. Mandan, the winter quarters , because of flooding. The rangers used a cute model for their description. A second lecture concentrated on why the expedition was so important. The exploration served to acquaint Americans with what was there - the Louisiana Purchase was an unknown entity for both the French and Americans. Their journals and map provided the knowledge of the Place. Peace after the War of 1812, and Prosperity provided by the Homestead Act were the platform upon which expansion of the nation went forward. “Go west young man, go west.”
During an after the fact discussion, the ranger noted that a resent lecturer had stated that Lewis probably suffered from a “re-entry” problem after completing the exploration. He was given a desk job as governor of the LA territory by Jefferson. Then Jefferson left the presidency, and Lewis‘ expenditures during the exploration were questioned and criticized by Jefferson’s political opponents in congress.
Also noted was Chief Big White of the Mandan. He did go to Washington, and was so impressed by what he saw that he came back and urged his people to support the USA in the War of 1812. Lewis’s idea of sending the chiefs to Washington proved quite fruitful in this case, but not enough of them were able to complete the trip to gain the benefits Lewis had envisioned.
Our next stop was the Knife River Indian Villages. We examined another Earth Lodge. The five villages (one of which was home to Sakakawea’s home) belonged to the Hidatsa. It was a large trading area because the people stayed put practicing agriculture. Each home would hold about 15 people - extended family, and 4 to 5 horses, and dogs. The lodges were handed down the maternal line. Men went to live with their in-laws. Dried grain was stored in various catches within the ground of the home - storage was spread around to prevent all of the food from being contaminated at one time by rot. Each family’s garden plot was about the size of a football field. We walked down to the Knife River noting the small mounds where the lodges had stood in the several villages. The lodges were built quite close together. The prairie grass wasn’t as tall or as full of flowers as at Spirit Mound in SD. Temperature in the 70s with a slight breeze was very enjoyable.
Oil pumps are visible. We’re at a higher altitude and the land is much dryer. I didn’t see evidence of irrigation being used for the fields. Just before stopping at the Roosevelt National Park, Burning Hills, I spotted a herd of buffalo! The Burning Hills were quite lovely and hard to describe as Bad Lands - so named by the Indians because of the inability to produce crops.
Medora, ND is cute - lovely hotel and dinner.
daily milage was 213 and total was 1590
foot distance was 4.67 and total was 20.72