Since 1700 the Mandan tribe maintained their camp in North Dakota, where they belonged to the Siouan linguistic family. Mandans lived at a strategic point on the Missouri River between Heart River and the Little Missouri Rivers, N.D. Their traditions resemble those of more eastern tribes. They became historically famous when Captains Lewis and Clark chose the site of Mandan settlement to build their first winter camp of 1804-05. There Captain Lewis hired Sacagawea and her husband Charbonneau to join the expedition as interpreters. Sacagawea was Shoshone and was able to get horses from the Shoshones to cross the Rocky Mountains. Later, in 1806, the explorers arrived at the Mandan village on their return from the Pacific Ocean. In 1837, the Mandans were nearly wiped out by smallpox, and later moved to Fort Berthold, N.D.
Not too long ago, the buffalo was the principal source of food and clothing for the Mandan Indian tribe.
For these reasons, each year their tribe held a festival to honour the buffalo. It became the chief celebration, a feast for all, marking the time for the buffalo's return. The buffalo- hunting season followed.