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Lewis and Clark
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image: Minitari Indians
Painting by Karl Bodmer/Historical Picture Archive/Corbis
Minitari Indians

First Noted by Expedition
While wintering at Fort Mandan, November 1804 to April 1805

The Minitari lived in Metaharta, the middle of three Hidatsa villages near the confluence of the Knife and Missouri Rivers. Metaharta's 40 or so earthen lodges were enclosed by a defensive wall.

Like the other Hidatsa and the Mandan in the region, the Minitari were an integral part of the local economy. They traded their agricultural produce for the horses and mules that their Assiniboin and Cree neighbors required. These Indians in turn traded British and French goods for the animals.

Also known as the Awatixa Hidatsa, the Minitari's chief was Ompsehara (Black Moccasin). Lewis had hoped to include the Minitari in the brokered peace between the Mandan-Hidatsa and Arikara, but alliances between these traditional enemies were not easy.

The Minitari were allies of the peaceable Mandan but often raided other tribes, stealing horses and kidnapping women and children. Five years before the Lewis and Clark expedition, Minitari Indians had surprised a band of Shoshone from the other side of the Rocky Mountains, in what is now southwest Montana. The Minitari captured several of the Shoshone, among them Sacagawea.

A pregnant Sacagawea joined the expedition during the winter of 1805 when her husband Toussaint Charbonneau was hired by Lewis. Many times throughout the long journey she proved invaluable to the expedition's success, through her ability to translate, her knowledge of edible plants and roots, and her connections to the Lemhi Shoshone, who later provided horses to the expedition.

In spring 1834 the village of Metaharta and the Amahami village just north were destroyed by Sioux raiding parties.

Today, with the Arikara and Mandan, many Hidatsa reside on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
image: Minitari Indians
Painting by Karl Bodmer/Historical Picture Archive/Corbis

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Arikara Indians
Assiniboin Indians
Cheyenne Indians
Hidatsa Indians
Mandan Indians
Minitari Indians
Pawnee Indians
North Dakota Plains