Around 9,500 B.C. Paleo-Indian peoples initially occupied the Northern Plains, hunting mammoths, giant bison, and other mega-fauna.
Near 5,500 B.C.Archaic peoples based their lifeways on hunting and gathering of essentially modern fauna since the previous era's mega-fauna were now extinct. The atlatl, a dart throwing device which drastically increased the range, effectiveness, and safety of hunting, came into use.
By 700 B.C. Ceramics were first used in North Dakota for cooking and food storage.
During the years 550-410 B.C. Early Woodland peoples living along the James River in Southeastern North Dakota built a log and brush house.
In 100 B.C. Middle Woodland peoples began building burial mounds in North Dakota, including complex ceremonial centers. The bow and arrow were introduced during this period.
Starting around 30 A.D. The Jamestown mounds, a complex burial and ceremonial site, were occupied.
By 900 A.D. Late Woodland peoples used the bow and arrow extensively, produced ceramics resembling the later Plains Village wares, and gardened intensively.
Starting in 950 A.D. Plains Village peoples raised corn and other crops in sufficient quantities to store seed and trade for other goods. Seasonally occupied, permanent villages of earthlodges were built.
By 1200 A.D. The Early Indian tribes or Mound Builders, left evidence of their work on the top of the Hawksnest. A serpent shaped mound several hundred feet long, with five connecting mounds or ridges is seen there and stands as a monument to those pre-historic people. Several attempts have been made at excavating but nothing of Archaeological nature was found.
Around the late 1300's-1400 Jamestown mounds site was abandoned. A drought reduced agricultural production and fewer living sites were established on the open prairies. Plains Village peoples abandoned the lower James River area.
The Cheyenne, living in earthlodges, occupied the Sheyenne River valley; the Hidatsa moved west from Devils Lake to the Missouri; the Sioux moved onto the plains from the woodlands of Minnesota around 1610
The Lakota were originally part of the seven council fires or 7 bands: 4 Dakota, 2 Nakota (3 later counting the Assiniboin), and one Teton or Lakota band. The Dakota were the predominant people in this arrangement. First recorded contact with the Dakota was by Jesuits in 1640 and 1658, in the area of present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in the forests in southern Minnesota. These people had lived in this area for many generations.
In 1680 the Teton or Lakota were identified as living further west, on the upper Mississippi in central Minnesota. But the continuing wars between the eastern tribes over the fur trade had driven the Chippewa westward to this area. They were well-armed by the French, and gradually forced the Oceti Sakowin westward, out of their forest-and-lake range, and onto the Great Plains west of the Mississippi.
In 1738 La Verendrye, a French explorer, visited Mandan villages near the Missouri River. This is the first known Euro-American expedition into what is now North Dakota.
In 1781 the first known business enterprise, a fur trading post, was briefly established near the Souris River, but was soon abandoned as a result of pressure from unfriendly Indians.
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