The remaking of Lake Sakakawea: Locating cultural viability in negative heritage on the Missouri River

Wendi Field Murray, María Nieves Zedeño, Kacy L. Hollenback, Calvin Grinnell, Elgin Crows Breast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


The creation of Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota during the 1950s resulted in significant grief and loss for the Fort Berthold Indian community and continues to figure prominently in the collective memory of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people. Drawing from ethnographic information pre- and postdating dam construction, we examine the lake's paradoxical identities in the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation worldview, as a repository of negative memory and as a locale of cultural knowledge, continuity, and meaning. The tribe's response to the construction of the lake illustrates how physical and psychological adjustments to irreparable loss can resituate negative heritage as culturally viable property.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-483
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011



  • Fort Berthold
  • Heritage
  • Lake Sakakawea
  • Landscape
  • Memory
  • Three Affiliated Tribes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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