Origin of Mahto

The name mahto originally came from Mato-tope. He was also known as Ma-to-toh-pe or Four Bears. Mato-tope was a chief of the Mandan tribe. He became friends with artist Karl Bodmer in 1833, and became chief in the year 1836. Around that time, a smallpox epidemic wiped out most of his tribe, leaving 125 survivors out of a population of formerly 1,600. He died on July 30, 1837. Many believed that he died of smallpox, but George Catlin claimed that he starved himself to death out of grief from the death of his family.

Mandan Invite Hidatsa to Live Close By

It would be better if you went upstream and built your own village, for our customs are somewhat different from yours. Not knowing each other’s ways the young men might have differences and there would be wars. Do not go too far away for people who live far apart are like strangers and wars break out between them. Travel north only until you cannot see the smoke from our lodges and there build your village. Then we will be close enough to be friends and not far enough away to be enemies. – Crows Heart


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Hidatsa Indian Language