Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was created to tell the stories of the region’s tribal groups. Originally this area was used as major center of trade for Native Americans. After 1750, it became a marketplace for the fur trade. In 1974, congress established Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site to tell the stories of the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara. The park also tells of the interactions between the Lewis & Clark expedition and the local tribes with the focus being the local tribes.
From 1978 to 1981, archeologists conducted a complete survey of the park. The park contains 65 archeological sites. These sites contain some of the best preserved examples of the northern Plains Indian earthlodge villages. The park has three main village sites. Each site has its own history and time period during which it was occupied. Numerous threats exist to the preservation of the various acheological sites, however park archeologists are doing their best to continue the discover of new and preservation of existing artifacts.