Missouri River Odyssey
Explore lost cities
Bits of white and shiny stones speckle paths through undulating mounds covered with waving grass. "Here's a piece of flint; this is animal bone," explains Ranger Terry O'Halloran, cradling the pieces in his palm, then tucking them reverently back into the earth.
The shards and the surrounding mounds hold hints of the Knife River Indian Villages, a rich culture that thrived in west-central North Dakota near the
Missouri River's banks when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark arrived in 1804. The disappeared cities, now a national historic site, yield thousands of fragments of intricately worked pottery, game pieces, arrowheads and bone tools.
Some are displayed in the museum and replica earth lodge (left) that mark the site, but many more will remain undisturbed. "They're where they should be," Terry says. Trails weave through the surrounding sage and wildflower-dappled prairie to the remains of villages, one where Sakakawea lived before she joined Lewis and Clark.