1796 - Spain declares war against England

         Since Spain still controlled the upper Missouri, rumors of upstream trading led Spanish authorities in St. Louis to send David MacKay, who had abandoned the English, back up the river with John Evans, a devotee of the popular theory that the Mandan's were descendants of the lost tribe of Welshmen.           

         Evans and MacKay were instructed to reassert Spanish hegemony in the region, and they went about their business with zeal, raising Spanish flags over British forts. If they were banking on panache and bravado to win over the tribes, they failed.  Wisely, Missouri River tribes remained neutral. Also, the British were too well established in the region to be so easily dislodged, even though the fur trade on the upper Missouri would remain hotly contested between the British, French, Spanish, and Americans for the next forty years.

         For their part, the Mandans had already been involved in this commercial struggle for decades.  Some thirty expeditions had reached their villages and traded with them, so they were not at all deluded as to what the Americans could mean to the region.