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Hidatsa Indians. Derived from the name of a former village and said, on somewhat doubtful authority, to signify “willows.” Also called:
- A-gutch-a-ninne-wug, Chippewa name, meaning “the settled people.”
- A-me-she’, Crow name, meaning “people who live in earth houses.”
- Gi-aucth-in-in-e-wug, Chippewa name, meaning “men of the olden time.”
- Gros Ventres of the Missouri, traders’ name, probably derived from the sign for them in the sign language.
- Hewaktokto, Dakota name.
- Minitari, meaning “they crossed the water,” said to have been given to them by the Mandan, from the tradition of their first encounter with the tribe on the Missouri.
- Wa-nuk’-e-ye’-na, Arapaho name, meaning “lodges planted together.”
- Wetitsatn, Arikara name.
Hidatsa Connections. The Hidatsa belonged to the Siouan linguistic stock, their closest relations within it being the Crow.
Hidatsa Location. They lived at various points on the Missouri between the Heart and Little Missouri Rivers. (See also Montana)
- Lewis and Clark (1804-5) give the following three names:
- Amahami or Mahaha, on the south bank of Knife River, formerly an independent but closely related tribe.
- Amatiha, on the south bank of Knife River.
- Hidatsa, on the north bank of Knife River.
The band names given by Morgan are rather those of social divisions.
Hidatsa History. According to tradition, the Hidatsa formerly lived by a lake northeast of their later country, one sometimes identified with Devil’s Lake. They moved from there to the mouth of Heart River, where they met and allied themselves with the Mandan, and from them they learned agriculture. As we have seen, Lewis and Clark found them on Knife River. In 1837 a terrible smallpox epidemic wasted them so completely that the survivors consolidated into one village which was moved in 1845 to the neighborhood of Fort Berthold, where the tribe has ever since continued to reside. They have now been allotted lands in severalty and are citizens of the United States.
Hidatsa Population. Mooney (1928) estimates the Hidatsa and Amahami together as numbering 2,500 in 1780. Lewis and Clark give 600 warriors, or about 2,100 people. In 1905 they totaled 471, and the census of 1910 gives 547, a figure repeated by the United States Indian Office in 1923. In 1930, 528 were returned and in 1937, 731.
Connection in which the Hidatsa have become noted. The Hidatsa appear most prominently, along with the Mandan, in connection with the ascent of the Missouri by Lewis and Clark and later expeditions into the same region. The name of Minatare, Scotts Bluff County, Nebr., probably refers to this tribe.