Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kusch, Mandan Village


In the center of every Mandan village there was a large open area or plaza on which stood the Ark of the First Man. According to myth, the First Man, a divine being created by the Lord of Life as a mediator between humans and the deities, once saved the people from a flood by showing them how to build a protective tower or "ark." The cylindrical plank structure in the plaza was a miniature replica of that extremely sacred symbol. From Maximilian's description, this view looks northward across the plaza past the ark to the medicine lodge, in which important rituals were held. In front of the medicine lodge is a tall fur and feather-wrapped pole with a black-painted wooden head. This represented Ochkih-Hadda, a fearsome being who also figured importantly in Mandan mythology. Most major ceremonies and dances were held on the plaza. The drawing of the ark was reproduced as a woodcut in Travels in the Interior of North America.


ink and pencil on paper


10 3/4 x 17

Call No.


Approximate Date of Creation

Winter 1834