Sisters Return Ancestral Lands to the Hidatsa People - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Sisters Return Ancestral Lands to the Hidatsa People

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Thanks to a generous gift, the Hidatsa of the Three Affiliated Tribes, returned to the lands where they once farmed and prospered over one hundred and fifty years ago.

It's been a homecoming 177 years in the making, as the Hidatsa tribe who once called the Knife River home, returned on Friday.

"It's a permanent homelands back into our capital so it's a tremendous gift that the Walker family has bestowed upon us," says Chairman Tex Hall of the Three Affiliated Tribes. 

Tillie and Reba walker are sisters and elders of the tribe. They donated their land to the Hidatsa tribe in memory of their father, Hans Young Bird Walker Senior.

The Hidatsa tribe was forced from the land after a small pox epidemic in 1837. The land changed hands for many years until Jim and Beverly Riedemann became owners, and sold the property to the Walker Sisters.

"We used to own the land for 15 years," says Jim amd Beverly Riedmann. Jim says,  "I'm glad it went to something like this here instead of somebody else."

Chairman Tex Hall, says the tribe will use the land to continue their legacy for generations.

"I envision an interpretative center, some kind of foundation that the tribe is going to put in place, so those stories and elders would have a place to continue this tradition of learning and passing on to the next generation."

Like many cultures, the Hidatsa tribe, uses story telling as a way to pass down customs, history and heritage. Amy Offsite says with a new interpretive center, the tribe can provide their perspective.

"We will tell the story of our people from our perspective," says Amy Mossiest. "It will be our voices that are presenting history to all that come here who are interested about our lives as we lived them when we were here."

While the day focused on celebration, there were also some mixed emotions.

"It's taken 200 years, but our ancestors are grateful," says Chairman Hall. "They are thankful that we rejoined them, and that we are here. So it's like you didn't die in vain. You didn't die in vain. we remembered and we are back."

Now that their ancestors are at rest, the Hidatsa own a piece of their history, one that they will interpret, and continue for generations to come.


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