Click here for photos

Mandan. A Siouan tribe of the northwest. The name, according to Maximilian, originally given by the Sioux is believed by Matthews to be a corruption of the Dakota Mawatani. Previous to 1830 they called themselves simply Numakiki, 'people' (Matthews). Maximilian says "if they wish to particularize their descent they add the name of the village whence they came originally." Hayden gives Miah'tanēs, ' people on the bank,' as the name they apply to themselves, and draws from this the inference that "they must have resided on the banks of the Missouri at a very remote period." According to Morgan (Syst. Consang. and Affin., 285), the native name of the tribe is Metootahäk, South villagers.' Their relations, so far as known historically and traditionally, have been moist intimate with the Hidatsa; yet, judged by the linguistic test, their position must be nearer the Winnebago. 
The Mandan villages were assemblages of circular clay-covered log huts placed close together without regard to order. Anciently these were surrounded with palisades of strong posts. The huts were slightly vaulted and were provided with a sort of portico. In the center of the roof was a square opening for the exit of the smoke, over which was a circular screen made of twigs. The interior was spacious. Four strong pillars near the middle, with several crossbeams, supported the roof. The dwelling was covered outside with matting made of osiers, over which was laid hay or grass, and then a covering of earth. "The beds stand against the wall of the hut; they consist of a large square case made of parchment or skins, with a square entrance, and are large enough to hold several persons, who lie very conveniently and warm on skins and blankets." They cultivated maize, beans, gourds, and the sunflower, and manufactured earthenware, the clay being tempered with flint or granite reduced to powder by the action of fire. Polygamy was common among them. Their beliefs and ceremonies were similar to those of the Plains tribes generally. The Mandan have always been friendly to the United States, and since 1866 a number of the men have been enlisted as scouts.
In Lewis and Clark's time the Mandan were estimated to number 1,250, and in 1837 1,600 souls, but about the latter date they were reduced by smallpox to between 125 and 150. In 1850 the number given was 150; in 1852 it had apparently increased to 385; in 1871, to 450; in 1877 the number given was 420; it was 410 in 1885, and 249 in 1905.
There were, according to Morgan (Am'. Soc., 158, 1877), the following divisions, which seem to have corresponded with their villages before consolidation:
(1) Horatamumake (Kharatanunanke)
(2) Matonumake (Matonumanke),
(3) Seepooshka (Sipushkanumanke)
(4) Tanatsuka (Tanetsukanumanke)
(5) Kitanemake (Khitanumanke)
(6) Estapa (Histapenumanke)
(7) Meteahke.