1450 - 1500 Mandan's established on Missouri

Painting of a Mandan Village by George Catlin

       The Mandans, now numbering more than 12,000, lived in a series of villages that reached the mouth of the Heart River, in modern-day North Dakota.   click for more

        Their villages featured open plazas at the center, large ceremonial lodges, with the entire village surrounded by a palisade and a large ditch for defense. 

         Mandan pottery was very sophisticated in construction and appearance, and evidence taken from villages occupied at this time suggests that they were experiencing a population explosion, largely due to the success of their horticulture and favorable climate.  It was about this time, or a little later, that the Mandans and Hidatsa made their first contact.  The Hidatsa built their first villages upstream from the Mandans at the confluence of the Missouri and the Knife rivers.