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Bull Dance, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony, oil painting by George Catlin, —Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly National Museum of American Art), Washington, D.C.
North American Plains Indian people living mostly in North Dakota, U.S. The Mandan language is of Siouan stock. According to 19th-century anthropologist Washington Matthews, the Mandan called themselves Numakiki (people). The Mandan traditionally lived in dome-shaped, earth-covered lodges clustered in stockaded villages, planted corn (maize), beans, pumpkins, and sunflowers, hunted buffalo, and made pottery and baskets. They held elaborate ceremonies, including the sun dance and the Bear Ceremony, a healing and war-preparation rite. They had age-graded warrior and women's societies as well as shamanistic societies. Nineteenth-century Mandan life was among the most recorded of Plains Indian traditions; tribal members depicted heroic deeds on buffalo robes, and artists George Catlin and Karl Bodmer portrayed Mandan life and people in a number of paintings. By the mid-19th century the tribe, reduced by smallpox, had moved to Fort Berthold for protection from the Sioux; the new settlement became the core of the Fort Berthold Reservation, where they live with the Hidatsa and the Arikara as the Three Affiliated Tribes. Population estimates indicated approximately 1,300 Mandan descendants in the early 21st century.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mandan, visit Britannica.com.