I was born in an earth lodge by the mouth of the Knife River, in what is now North Dakota, three years after the smallpox winter. So begins the story of Waheenee, a Hidatsa Indian woman, born in 1839 amid a devastated tribe.
In 1906 Gilbert L. Wilson first visited the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and began to study the remnants of the Hidatsa tribe. He returned in 1908, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, and for every summer of the next ten years he worked among the Hidatsas, making notes of all he saw. One of his chief informants was Waheenee-wea, or Buffalo-Bird Woman, who told him this, her life story.
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