"We Never Left": Arikara Settlement and Community Construction on the Missouri River

Author(s): Wendi Field Murray; Brad Kroupa

Year: 2018


     By the eighteenth century, Arikara villages along the Missouri River in the Dakotas were already in flux, as residents confronted Old World epidemic diseases and powerful enemies. Nineteenth- century allotment policies further transformed the spatial organization of their communities, though they did not undermine the central tenets of Arikara identity; the persistence of corn agriculture, a tradition of resource-sharing, and spiritual communion with the Missouri River.

     This research integrates space syntax analysis and oral histories to explore the role of settlement in the maintenance of Arikara identity during the reservation era. Their occupation of the densely populated village of Like-A-Fishhook (AD 1845-1880s) and their subsequent settlement of dispersed allotments in the community of Nishu (AD 1880s-1954) demonstrate that social and spatial configurations of community are not always commensurate, and that understanding the multidimensionality of belonging requires both archaeological and ethnographic approaches.

Cite this Record

"We Never Left": Arikara Settlement and Community Construction on the Missouri River. Wendi Field Murray, Brad Kroupa. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441782)


Temporal Keywords
Reservation Period

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 650