Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln is a State Park located seven miles south of Mandan, North Dakota. It is home to On-A-Slant Indian Village, the Custer house and the blockhouses. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the deed to the land to the state as Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Within Fort Abraham Lincoln, you will find the ruins of the On-A-Slant Indian Village. The village was first established back in 1957 and was one of the nine southernmost villages in the mouth of the Heart River which they believed to be the center of the universe. The village was so-called ‘on-a-slant’ because of its sloping position towards the river. The village contained 75 earth lodges with a population of around 1000 people. These earthen lodges were constructed and owned by women. After prospering on the site for two centuries, a smallpox epidemic hit the population in 1781 virtually eliminating the Heart River region of Mandan. The survivors moved north towards the Missouri River eventually joining the Hidatsa near the Knife River.
Also found in Fort Abraham Lincoln is the Custer house, pictured above, is where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil war and the Indian Wars, with his wife Libby lived from 1873 until Lt. Col. Custer died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, which is also popularly known as “Custer’s last stand”, during the spring of 1876. The first house was built during the summer of 1873 but it burned down in 1874. Following Custer’s death, he was given full military honors and was buried on the battlefield and was later moved to the West Point Cemetery.
The state park offers tours of the house as well as the barracks that housed the 650 troops that were stationed there. Also located in Fort Abraham State Park is Five Nation Arts, an art store that offers all kinds of Native American art such as paintings, sculptures, dreamcatchers, jewelry and beadwork which was created by the local artisans. Five Nation Arts are also part of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, a non-profit organization that is focused on the maintenance and promotion of the historical perspectives and heritage of Fort Lincoln and the rest of North Dakota.