Bismarck News

Double Ditch Construction Continues On

The Double Ditch Indian Village received funding for it's preservation construction. The area has over 700 years of history, the site has been considered the best preserved archaeological site in the Northern Plains.

And now, with the approved funding, it's getting some much needed TLC to maintain that status.

Fern Swenson; Director of Archeology and Historic Preservation Division: "I'd say that Double Ditch is probably one of the most significant sites here in North Dakota. It was occupied by the Mandan Indians for nearly 300 years and when you think about that I mean that's just incredible."

Double Ditch was first occupied in the 1400's through about 1785 and was considered a major trading center for it's time.

Fern Swenson; Director of Archeology and Historic Preservation Division:  "Then over time the site contracted in size, so by time the Mandan's left here to move closer to the Hidatsa's. They were probably about 400 people that lived here, so you know just imagine, as you see the population decline over time due to various epidemics that were happening and hostility."

The 2011 flood caused so much erosion to double ditch that well over a dozen ancient burials were exposed. At that point, construction to preserve the area was a step the state historical society wanted to take.

$3.5 million was appropriated for the project, including reshaping the bank by leveling the weight.

The rock key and pipe piles will provide mass and strength to stabilize the slope.  The rock key has been installed and they are moving along with the pipe piles. 

There will be a bike and walking trail down by the river

Fern Swenson; Director of Archeology and Historic Preservation Division: "..and on the very north end there will be a kayak and canoe landing.."

And once construction is complete..

Fern Swenson; Director of Archeology and Historic Preservation Division: "Then the State Historical Society as well as the MHA we'll have an event out here, celebrating the cooperation between people." 

The Historical Society made sure to work closely with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation throughout the preservation process. Especially as more ancient burials sites are unearthed and relocated as construction moves along.

The goal is to complete construction in October.

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