New Film About People of the Upper Missouri Debuting July 12

Villages of Hidatsa and Mandan Indians are preserved at the Knife River Indian Villages National Historical Site.

By The State Historical Society of North Dakota

The premiere of a new documentary film, The People of the Upper Mis­souri: The Mandans, will be shown on Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m. at the National Energy Center of Excellence (Room 304) at Bis­marck State College.

Focusing on the history, tradi­tions, and material culture of the Mandan people, the documentary integrates historical imagery, con­temporary interviews with resi­dents of Fort Berthold, interviews with historians and research specialists, and ethnographic and archaeological data that trace 800 years of Mandan resil­ience, adaptability, and continuity.

The film begins with a contemporary portrait of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people and travels backwards through space and time, recounting the unspeakable tragedy and loss incurred by the construction of the Garrison Dam; the peak of Mandan population, power, and prosperity as agriculturalists and traders on the Heart River during the sixteenth century; and the origins of a cultural identity that is bound in mem­ories of ancestors and inextricably tied to the Missouri River landscape. Nar­rator Calvin Grinnell (Tribal Historian of the Three Affiliated Tribes) and Dr. Edwin Benson (last fluent speaker of the Mandan language) will provide an in­troduction to the film.

This documentary was produced by the State Historical Society of North Dakota and made possible through funding by the North Dakota Humani­ties Council.

The film will be followed by a pre­view of In the Words of Our Ancestors: The Mandan Language and Oral Tradi­tions Preservation Project.

For a calendar of upcoming state historic site programs, contact the State

Historical Society of North Dakota at 328-2666 or visit

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