Thursday, June 21, 2018

HWY83 - Day 10 - Knife River Indian Villages, End of the Road, Sleeping in a Bank
For centuries the Upper Missouri River Valley was a lifeline winding through the landscape.  It's wooded banks and rich soil became the home of the Earthlodge people.  They hunted bison and other game but were essentially farmers living in villages along the Missouri and its tributaries.
Alisha is Chief of Interpretation and Cultural Resources at the Knife River Indian Villages.  She is a direct descendant of the Mandan and Hidatsa Earthlodge people.  "The Knife Villages had been established for over 500 years at the time of contact with Europeans.  The Hidatsa arrived in the area around 1300.  Archeological evidence shows that the Knife River area has been occupied for more than 11,000 years.  In 1837 a smallpox epidemic transmitted by the Europeans reduced the populations by 90 percent.  In 1885 the US Government forced the remaining tribes to move to the Fort Berthold Reservation."
Hand painted buffalo robes depicted and celebrated important events.  They were placed within a sacred area of the Earthlodge.  Cooking fires were in the middle.  Buffalo hides were wrapped around the upright beams to give thanks and respect for all the bison provided for the people.
Walking through the villages and along the Missouri River this morning I was filled with a sense of peace and tranquility.  Agriculture with gardens of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers were the main crops.  The women of the Mandan and Hidatsa nurtured their gardens as they did their children.  It was here in this village Lewis and Clark met Sakakawea who traveled with them to the Pacific Ocean.
A short 85 miles further north brought me to the end of HWY 83 at the border of the United States and Canada.  At one time the road gently curved into another country. Today it is all about passports, immigration, forms, and government regulations.  2211 miles from the Gulf of Texas to the border of Canada in North Dakota.  Across vast grass plains, sand hills, headwaters of mighty rivers.  Through disappearing Americana and history that formed this country.  Folks I met in small towns and big cities, chatted with, heard stories, and drank coffee with.  All part of the Last American Highway, a journey through time.
Lookin' for a room for the night.  Pulled up to the Gateway Motel in Westhope, ND just 6 miles from the border.  It was a bank at one time.  Now the city hall, library and a motel with 16 non-smoking rooms.  Entered the building.  Sign with a phone. "Call this number if you need a room".  Called the number.  Jim answered.  Told him what I needed.  He took my information, gave me the combination to a key box where I found my room key. "Don't forget to leave your key on the dresser in the morning.  If you don't we are goin' be charging you for each day the key is missing."  Got my attention.  Key is laying on the dresser.  BTW 15 additional rooms still available tonight.

Tomorrow ride back south to Minot.  

Kickstand down Weshope, ND 210 miles

be strong, be safe, Talon

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