The Mandan Indians were a small, peaceful tribe located at the mouth of the Knife River on the Missouri near present day Bismarck, North Dakota. The Mandan were most known for their friendliness and their homes, called earth lodges. The women of the Mandan tribe tended their gardens, prepared food, and maintained lodges while the men spent their time hunting or seeking spiritual knowledge. The Mandan Indians performed many ceremonies such as the Buffalo Dance and the Okipa Ceremony that have been the center of great interest to many historians. The Mandan are also an important part of history because Lewis and Clark spent their first winter with these people and met Sacagawea, who helped guide them for the rest of their journey west.
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In the middle of the plaza was a sacred cedar post that represented the Lone Man, a hero to the Mandan. At the North end of the plaza was the medicine or ceremonial lodge. The arrangement of earth lodges around the central plaza represented the social status of each family. Villagers who had important ceremonial duties were located closer to the plaza than those who were not.
The rich, floodplain fields that surrounded the village made agriculture the basis of Mandan existence. On top of preparing food and maintaining lodges, sustaining gardens was the task of women within the village. The agricultural year began in April when women would clear the fields by burning the old stalks and weeds of the previous year's crops. Around May they planted rows of corn, beans, tobacco, pumpkin, sunflowers and squash perpendicular to the sun so that the crops would get the most sunlight. To tend their gardens, women used tools such as a digging stick, rake, and hoe made out of wood or buffalo bones. Mandan gardens had many enemies, including prairie dogs, birds, and small rodents. In order to protect their gardens from these predators they often constructed scarecrows out of buffalo hide. Another way Mandan women tried to protect their gardens was by practicing rituals that called on the supernatural for help. Often, women performed daily cleansing rituals before entering their gardens by