Earth Lodge Village

A natural cultural resource and historical site situated adjacent to the Bow River near the new Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. It represents a settlement area established around 1740 – 42, by a people who migrated or were strongly influenced by the culture of the Middle Missouri region of the Dakotas.

There is historical evidence that they may have come from the Mandan tribes. The fortified village was constructed in a half circle surrounded by a moat. The depression of the moat is still visible as well as circular depressions of the earth lodges.

Excavations were done there in 1875, 1881, 1911, and the most recent in 1960. The University of Calgary Archaeology department will undertake another excavation of the Earth Lodge Village this summer.

Maybe the questions about who these people were and where they came from will finally be answered!

The Earthlodge Village

Directly west of the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park Interpretive Centre is an unique historical site known as the Cluny Earthlodge Village. Its exact origins remain a mystery, but oral history, early historical accounts and archaeology give many clues to the history of this fascinating place.

Cluny Earthlodge Village Map- Click for Larger MapEvidence shows that this camp had a fortified palisade wall, moat-like trench and dwellings made of logs and earth.

Archaeologist Richard Forbis concluded that the village was established about 1740 by a group who migrated from the Middle Missouri region of the Dakotas.

The structural features, pottery and other artifacts have established a link to what is now called the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (or Sahnish) Nation of North Dakota.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara are also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. Members of the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park storyline committee travelled to North Dakota and met with the Cultural Preservation Officer at the band office.

They also spoke to local Elders and learned that there is oral history that some groups of Mandan/Hidatsa once travelled north, and later returned speaking another language. They commissioned Arlie Knight to create a model of an Earth lodge.

Originally the Hidatsa and Crows were one and the same tribe. The Crow separated from the Hidatsa in the early part of 1700.





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