Experience Legendary Native American Culture and History in North Dakota This Summer and Fall

Experience Legendary Native American Culture and History in North Dakota This Summer and Fall

BISMARCK, N.D., June 27, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — With approximately 30,000 current Native American residents and five tribal nations, Indigenous cultures are an essential part of North Dakota. Throughout the year and with numerous events in the late summer and early fall, the state is host to many opportunities to interact with and experience Native American culture which all are welcome to explore.

A plethora of authentic Native American cultural experiences are open to North Dakota visitors including upcoming powwows – most are held from late June through early September – as well as the highly-anticipated return of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Tourism Indian Horse Relay; the state’s numerous Native American museums and cultural centers; and publicly accessible tribal lands. Here are some of the most popular ways to experience Native American culture in North Dakota:


Visitors to powwows today can experience a multi-day festival centered around song and dance performances, traditional foods (and some favorite “county fair” foods), as well as vendors selling arts and crafts. Below are a few of the upcoming powwows held in North Dakota:

  • July 4-6Turtle Mountain Chief Little Shell, Dunseith: Held annually since 1988, this powwow was created to honor the last of the hereditary chiefs of the Pembina Band of Chippewa. Share in a celebration of Native American culture and heritage.
  • July 12–14Arikara Celebration, White Shield: The relationship between the Arikara and Pawnee dates back to the 15th century through an oral history shared by the tribes. Today, that same oral history, as told by their grandparents, celebrates this union through the powwow.
  • July 19–21Mandaree Celebration Powwow, Mandaree: A celebration with rich traditions, the Mandaree Celebration Powwow features competitions in song and drum alongside a full slate of dance specials. A mouthwatering variety of foods are available from vendors as well as souvenirs, merchandise and jewelry.
  • July 26–28Fort Totten Days Celebration, Fort Totten: Held in the Andrew Shaw Sr. arena, Fort Totten Days Celebration brings together dancers of all ages to showcase the unique style of each dance. Additional events include a 5K fun run, moccasin games, singing contest and horseshoe doubles competition.
  • August 8Battle of the Great Plains — Chicken Dance, New Town: During the Battle of the Great Plains, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes (known as the MHA Nation) highlight the chicken dance, one of the most intricate dances full of stunningly beautiful synchronization and artistry.
  • August 9–11Little Shell Celebration/Antelope Society, New Town: The Little Shell celebration is the second-largest powwow in North Dakota and boasts numerous dance specials for all age groups and categories. Attendees will find plenty of food and craft vendors and can enjoy dance finals held under the lights in the evening.
  • August 30-Sept. 1Turtle Mountain Labor Day Powwow, Belcourt: This event is unique in being both a competition and traditional powwow.
  • September 6–8United Tribes International Powwow, Bismarck: United Tribes International Powwow is one of the largest and most prestigious celebrations of Native American culture in the nation. The three-day event brings thousands of drummers and dancers from around the world to Bismarck each year.

A guide to powwows in North Dakota can be found here.


Back for its third consecutive year, the electrifying Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Tourism Indian Horse Relay returns on July 23, 2024, at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot. The relay consists of Native American athletes vying for victory in one of the Midwest’s most intense races. Each relay team, consisting of a rider, a mugger, and two holders across three horses, showcases incredible athleticism and coordination. Riders begin bareback, swiftly changing horses with each lap, culminating in a dramatic finish sure to captivate the audience. But it doesn’t stop there, during intermissions, dancers take the main stage enriching the atmosphere with Native American cultural heritage and traditions.


Five sovereign First Nations share geography with North Dakota and have deep connections to the plains and numerous sites throughout the state honor and celebrate their culture and modern life. North Dakota’s first community, Pembina, was built by the Chippewa, the descendants of Chippewa (or Cree), and French Canadians (known as Métis), all of whom are part of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa which is centered in the town of Belcourt near the Canadian border. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center preserves the Chippewa, Cree and Métis culture of the area, and the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway offers a route through the scenic landscape. 

Also in the Eastern portion of the state, the Spirit Lake Nation includes several different nations of Lakota/Dakota peoples, many of whom live on the south shore of Devils Lake near Fort Totten. The Fort Totten State Historic Site offers visitors a look into the history of the area and the tribe.

In Bismarck, the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, on the grounds of the state capitol, offers visitors an interactive overview of Native American history and culture. It has one of the nation’s largest collections of Plains Indian artifacts, second only to the Smithsonian. Of particular note is the Native American Hall of Honors, a gallery of prominent North Dakota Native Americans and a diorama of Double Ditch Indian Village.  

After taking in the State Museum exhibit, visitors can head north of the city to see the actual remains of Double Ditch Indian Village, as well as several other Native American villages. Visible depressions are all that remain of the large Mandan Indian Earth Lodge Village and interpretive signs assist visitors in understanding the history and culture of this village.

Additional historic Native American villages that offer an authentic look at how Plains Indians lived include Chief Looking’s Village within Bismarck, Huff Indian Village State Historic Site near Huff, Sitting Bull Visitor Center, a tribute to the famous Lakota chief, on the Fort Yates campus of Sitting Bull College and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in Stanton and the home of Sakakawea before she joined the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is located on the banks of the Missouri River just south of Mandan, Bismarck’s sister city. The park’s history goes back more than 300 years and includes On‐A‐Slant Indian Village, which was once home to a thriving Mandan Indian population in the mid‐1600s who lived in earthlodges along the river. Several rebuilt lodges can be toured and offer a sense of what everyday life was like for the Mandan people.

And for road trippers, the 350-mile Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway traces the route the explorers Lewis and Clark traveled along the Missouri River in North Dakota and offers several historically important sites along the way.

For more about Native American experiences in North Dakota and resources to plan a legendary trip, visit NDtourism.com.

Follow North Dakota Tourism on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TravelND, on Instagram at  https://www.instagram.com/northdakotalegendary/ or on X at http://x.com/NorthDakota and get tips on what to see and do all year long.

SOURCE North Dakota Tourism Division

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/experience-legendary-native-american-culture-and-history-in-north-dakota-this-summer-and-fall-302184966.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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