- An important division of the Sioux Indians, who originally lived in the
neighborhood of what is now Bismarck, North Dakota. The artist, Catlin,
who spent much time among them, made them famous on canvas and in literature.
Lewis and Clark spent the winter with them in 1804-1805.
The Mandan had among them a type which
inherited gray hair, often at an early age. Since gray hair was unusual
among Indians, the tribe was often referred to as being composed of "white
Indians." Some thought their hair was blonde and it was speculated
that the Mandan might be descendants of the Welsh believed to have been
brought into Canada by King Madoc of Wales - the so called "Lost Welsh
The Mandan practiced tattooing to a certain
extent - the chiefs decorating their arms and breasts with black parallel
stripes and a few figures.
The Mandan were rarely in trouble with
the whites. Smallpox was their worst enemy. In 1837 the disease
almost wiped them out, leaving only 31 survivors out of 1,600, according
to one report. These few joined the Hidatsa and have been with them
ever since. Mandan is the name of a city in North Dakota.
within this Site
][ Catlin ][ Gros Ventre
][ Lewis ][ Tattooing