top of page
Between the Floods; A History of the Arikaras

Between the Floods; A History of the Arikaras


he creation story of the Sahniš, or Arikara, people begins with a terrible flood, sent by the Great Chief Above to renew the world. Many generations later, another devastating flood nearly destroyed the Arikaras when the newly built Garrison Dam swamped the fertile land of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. Between the Floods tells the story of this powerful Great Plains nation from its mythic origins to the modern era, tracing the path of the Arikaras through the oral traditions and oral histories that preserve and illuminate their past.

The Arikaras, like their Hidatsa and Mandan neighbors on the northern plains, lived as both farmers and hunter-gatherers, growing corn and hunting buffalo. Pressure on their villages from other nations, including the Lakhotas, forced displacements and relocations, and once Euro-Americans entered their domain—French fur-traders, the Spanish, and especially Americans after Lewis and Clark—the Arikaras’ strategic location on the Missouri River became both an asset and a liability.

Between the Floods follows this resilient semi-sedentary people in their migration and settlement as they confront the challenges of white incursions, tribal conflicts, foreign diseases, the slave trade, and the introduction of horses and metal tools. In the Arikaras’ oral traditions and histories, Mark van de Logt finds a key to their distant past as well as the cultural underpinnings of their resilience and persistence, as faith in their great prophet, Mother Corn, guides them and inspires hope for the future.

Enhanced with the insights of archaeology, linguistics, and anthropology, and illustrated with Native maps and ledger art, as well as historic photographs and drawings, Between the Floods brings unprecedented depth, detail, and authenticity to its picture of the Arikaras in the fullness and living presence of their history.

bottom of page