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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Stanton in Mercer County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Smallpox and the Central Plaza

Fort Clark State Historic Site

 
 
Smallpox and the Central Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 28, 2020
1. Smallpox and the Central Plaza Marker
Captions: (background) George Catlin painted this view of the central plaza. Note the Ark of the First Man, located in the center of the plaza.; (bottom left) Karl Bodmer's pencil sketch of the central plaza and Ark of the First Man.
Inscription.  In the summer of 1837, the steamboat St. Peters arrived at the Mandan village and Fort Clark, carrying passengers, supplies, and trade goods. Tragically, some of the people on the St. Peters were also infected with smallpox. In a matter of weeks, this epidemic decimated the Mandans. Of an estimated population of 1600 people, fewer than 160 survived the epidemic. Most of those who survived the epidemic left Mih-tutta-hang-kush, and along with others moved further north. The neighboring Arikaras moved into the village in the spring of 1838.
What is unique about the spot were you are now standing is that it clearly shows the transition in village plan from the Mandans to the Arikaras.
Prior to the epidemic and the departure of the Mandans, the village core was used as a central plaza. The central plaza served an important function of Mandan villages. In the middle of this open space stood the Ark of the First Man. This barrel-shaped object represented the height of waters in a great flood, and was an important part of Mandan ceremonies. Surrounding the plaza were homes of some of the most prominent members of the tribe,
Smallpox and the Central Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
By Google maps, December 14, 2020
2. Smallpox and the Central Plaza Marker
The stone shelter is at the bottom.
as well as the Mandan's ceremonial lodge. When the Arikaras arrived, they built their own ceremonial lodge. This lodge was built over the place where the Mandan's Ark of the First Man had been located.
 
Erected by State Historical Society of North Dakota.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyNative Americans.
 
Location. 47° 15.214′ N, 101° 16.416′ W. Marker is near Stanton, North Dakota, in Mercer County. Marker can be reached from 37th Avenue Southwest near 12th Street Southwest (State Highway 200), on the right when traveling north. The marker is located at the Fort Clark State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Stanton ND 58571, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Mandan Overlook (within shouting distance of this marker); Mandans and Arikaras of the Village (within shouting distance of this marker); Earthlodges (within shouting distance of this marker); Palisade Wall (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stone Shelter (about 600 feet away); Corrals (about 600 feet away); Winter Villages and Lodges (about 700 feet away); Missouri Valley Environs (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Stanton.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 14, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 23 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 14, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 2, 2021