An Ancient Bond with the Land
A Mandan-Assiniboine Example
The trade fair explored here might have occurred about 500 years ago. It involved two groups; the Nuptadi/Nueta (Mandans), who were agricultural villagers living along the Upper Missouri River, and the Nakoda (Assiniboines), bison hunters from southern Saskatchewan.
Relationships between these two groups were normally friendly, but recent events had raised tensions between them. Rather than meeting in a host village, both sides agreed to hold a trade fair on neutral ground. They chose the Souris River Valley, roughly halfway between their homelands. With abundant wood, water and shelter, it was a place that could support more than 2,000 people for several days.