Fort Berthold Indian Reservation

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Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is in the upper-left corner on this map.

The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is a U.S. Indian reservation in western North Dakota that is home for the federally recognized Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. Created in 1870, the reservation is a small part of the lands originally reserved to the tribes by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, which allocated nearly 12 million acres (49,000 km²) in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming.[1][2]


The reservation is located on the Missouri River in (in descending order of reservation land) McLean, Mountrail, Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer and Ward counties. The reservation consists of 988,000 acres (4,000 km²), of which 457,837 acres (1,853 km²) are owned by Native Americans, either as individual allotments or communally by the tribe.[3] The McLean National Wildlife Refuge lies within its boundaries.The Four Bears Bridge, which opened in 2005 replacing the original Four Bears Bridge from 1955, provides access across the Lake Sakakawea.[4]


Created in 1870 by the U.S. government, the reservation was named after a United States Army fort, Fort Berthold located on the northern bank of the Missouri River some twenty miles downstream (southeast) from the mouth of the Little Missouri River.[5]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century individual allotments were assigned when the US government was trying to have Native Americans adopt European-American land use patterns. The tribe retained some communal holdings and has resisted continued individual allotments since its reorganization in the 1930s.

The population of the reservation was 6,341 as of the 2010 census, with a total enrollment of 15,013 registered tribe members in March 2016.[6][7] Unemployment was at 42%. The 2000 census reported a reservation population of 5,915 persons living on a land area of 1,318.895 sq mi (3,415.923 km²).

The creation of Garrison Dam between 1947–53 and Lake Sakakawea as water reservoir for irrigation, for flood control and hydroelectric power generation in 1956 increased the proportion of water area on the reservation; it totals 263.778 sq mi (683.182 km²) or one-sixth of the reservation's surface area.[8][9] The lake, and the flooding of tribal lands destroyed much of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ economy, previously based on farming and ranching in the fertile river bottom.[10] Over 50 years, the displacement of Fort Berthold farmers by the lake has resulted in a significant worsening of the health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.[11]


The largest communities of the reservation are the towns of New Town and Parshall. The tribe operates 4 Bears Casino and Lodge in New Town, which was built in 1993.[12]


  1. ^ "Tribal Historical Overview - The 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Three Affiliated - Demographics - Land Base and Land Status". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Three Affiliated - Demographics - Land Base and Land Status". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Four Bears Steadily Crosses Sakakawea in ND". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ South Dakota State Historical Society, South Dakota. Dept. of History (1908). South Dakota Historical Collections. South Dakota State Historical Society. p. 235. 
  6. ^ "Demographics | North Dakota Studies". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ Sevant, Taft (March 30, 2016). "Three Affiliated Tribes Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation Office of Tribal Enrollment" (PDF). Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  8. ^ Lake Sakakawea History McLean County
  9. ^ Coyote Warrior: One Man, Three Tribes, and the Trial That Forged a Nation, Second Edition by Paul VanDevelder
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "4 Bears Casino & Lodge". Retrieved August 1, 2016. 

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Coordinates: 47°44′35″N 102°16′39″W / 47.74306°N 102.27750°W / 47.74306; -102.27750