The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Minnetarees
MINNETAREES, a tribe of Indians on the upper Missouri, who are called by the Canadians Gros Ventres of the Missouri, but by themselves Hidatsa. They were originally part of the Crow nation, but separated from it after a quarrel. They came to the Mandans in a state of destitution, nearly all the men having fallen in battle. The Mandans did not allow them to enter their village, but permitted them to settle near. They gradually recovered, and adopted many Mandan customs and ideas, but have retained their own language. Lewis and Clarke in 1804 found the tribe in two villages on opposite sides of Knife river near the Missouri. They numbered 2,500, and traded with the great English fur companies, defending themselves against the Sioux, and making war on the Shoshones and Flatheads. The United States made a treaty with them at the lower Mandan village, July 30, 1825. They have never been hostile to the whites. When the smallpox swept away most of the Mandans in 1838, the Minnetarees were reduced to about 500. In 1842 they numbered about 300 males and 800 females, in 75 lodges, their village lying about 8 m. above the Mandans; but in 1845, under the constant attacks of the Sioux, they united with a part of the Mandans in a palisaded village at their present site, where Fort Berthold was erected the same year. They were then estimated at 760 souls. Though a treaty was made at Laramie in September, 1851, to which they adhered, the Sioux continued their hostilities, and in 1862 killed Four Bears, their head chief, a man of remarkable ability. During the civil war no arms or ammunition was issued to these tribes, while the Sioux procured supplies from the British territory, and in spite of all treaty obligations killed and plundered these unoffending Indians, who were unable to go on their usual hunts. They ceded some of their lands in 1864. In 1870 peace was again made with the Sioux and arms were furnished to the Minnetarees; at the same time a reservation in Dakota and Montana was set apart for them, but in 1873 they were still at Fort Berthold. They are reduced to 528, the Mandans, and since 1863 the Rickarees occupying part of the village. The Minnetarees are tall, well made, and light in color. They dwell chiefly in peculiar earth-covered lodges like those of the Mandans, 30 to 50 ft. in diameter. Every winter they go many hundred miles up the Missouri and Yellowstone valleys to hunt. Their religious ideas and rites are similar to those of the Mandans. No attempt has been made to civilize or Christianize them beyond occasional visits of Roman Catholic missionaries. An account of the tribe and its language is given in Washington Matthews's “Grammar and Dictionary of the Hidatsa” (New York, 1873); see also “Hidatsa (Minnetaree)-English Dictionary” (New York, 1874).