Along a tributary of the Missouri River, the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara settled in permanent villages and began to practice agriculture, while still hunting and gathering, around AD 1600. These unique villages became trade hubs for many mobile Plains Indian tribes and eventually hosted the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Sacagawea lived in one of the villages and famously joined the expedition. Today, visitors to this North Dakota park can explore a reconstructed earthlodge structure and the remains of three large villages.
Archaeological Fun Fact: At the Awatixa Village, erosion by the Knife River allows archaeologists and visitors to view cultural features and artifacts in cross-section.
Park website: www.nps.gov/knri/
Founded around 1100 AD, Cicuye Pueblo, later named Pecos by the Spanish, was an important center of trade, connecting the Great Plains to the Colorado Plateau. Coronado passed through Pecos in 1540, and Franciscan missionaries attempted to colonize and convert the settlement, with mixed results, throughout the 1600s and 1700s (residents participated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680). Visitors to this park in modern New Mexico can tour the pueblo and mission church, as well as a Civil War battlefield.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Through excavations at Pecos from 1915 to 1929, Alfred V. Kidder established a basic chronology, based on pottery types, for the Southwest. In 1927, Kidder founded the Pecos Conference, an annual meeting of Southwest archaeologists that continues today.
Park Website: www.nps.gov/peco/