CANNON BALL HISTORY
The Cannon Ball River is tributary of the Missouri River and is approximately 135 miles long. Which runs the border of Standing Rock Reservation along Sioux county and Grant County. The Cannonball River was named after the cannonball-like concretions that may be found along the river. The river heads just north of Amidon in Slope County, From there it flows southeastward through THE TOWNS OF New England, Regent, and Mott, to near where highway 31 intersects the border of Grant and Sioux County. From there it flows northeastward forming the Grant-Sioux County line before flowing into the Missouri River near Cannonball. Although the flows of this 135 mile river may be negligible during dry periods, it can flow to perhaps 95,000 cubic feet per second during wet periods. Cannonball concretions are one of the more interesting geological features found in the state. These sandstone concretions are formed when water flows through sandstone. A bit of shell or plant material may form a nucleus upon which cementation of calcium carbonates or other mineral compounds begin to enlarge the concretion. Although generally less than two or three feet in diameter, some cannonball concretions have been reported to be up to 10 feet in diameter. Because they are often more resistant to erosion than the surrounding material, erosion often removes the surrounding material thus exposing the concretions.
The History of the Cannon Ball River:
The home of the Ihunktonwana (Upper Yanktonais), Pabasha (Cut Head), and Hunkpatina (Lower Yanktonais) of Standing Rock Reservation. In time long ago this territory was occupied by the Mandan, Arikara, Pawnee, and Cheyenne.In 1734 was the separation of the Arikara and Scirri bands took place at the mouth of the Cannon Ball River. As recorded by the early French Fur Traders Pierre de Vamess Gaultier de la Verendrye the mouth of the Cannon Ball was a large Mandan Village site recorded in 1738, also recorded by Verendrye the Arikara village near the mouth of the Cannon Ball River whom had horses and were willing to trading horses with the French. On the east side of the Missouri River was an Ihunktonwana village site. Crossing the Missouri River on the north side of the river along where the gas pipeline is located is the Old River Crossing for the tribes. North Cannonball Indian Village (North Cannonball Archaeological Site) Ruins of a prehistoric fortified Mandan village on the north bank of the Cannonball River. Explorer John Evans named the site Jupiter's Fort in 1796, for some unknown reason. The earthen remnants of the ditch and several bastions have been badly disturbed over the years by modern agriculture.
The Cannon Ball Ranch is a Historic Ranch located on the Northside of the Cannon Ball River is the oldest ranch in North Dakota, created in 1860 by Henry S. Parkins. Henry Parkin married Alma Galpin the daughter of Matilda Gaplin both enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In 1895 Henry died and Alma on 1913 both were buried at the ranch. The Cannon Ball was inherited by Alma’s Parkin’s sister Louise DeGrey Van Solen and her daughter Lucille Van Solen both enrolled member of Standing Rock. Alma Parkin and Louise DeGrey Van Solen were daughter of Matilda Picotte Gaplin (Eagle that looks at woman) both of these Native women were educated in St Louis Mo. The four women. Matilda, Alma, Louisa and Lucille were buried on top of a hill overlooking the Cannon Ball River where a lone tree was planted, also buried was the son of Matilda Gapkin, Charles Picotte, son of Alma Parkins plus the babies of Louisa, lulu and Alma were also buried but only the four women’s graves were moved to the catholic church in Fort yates. The Cannon Ball Ranch was sold to John Sullivan which owned it for 65 years, then sold it to Monte Allen. The Cannon Ball Ranch host buffalo herd currently. The family of Frank Gayton were buried along the old road crossing on the Cannon Ball River and graves remain there today on the south side of the Cannon Ball River.
The Cannon Ball was originally called Hekton in 1880s established a post office with Rick Johnson as postmaster. In 1889 Cannon Ball was officially established by the post office ran by Robert Goudreau. The Parkin Trading Post was established in 1873s. The Parkin Trading Post was brought by Mr. Underhill in 1880 then sold as the Mulhearn Trading post was established by 1900s. 1873-1880-Mrs Charles Galpin Trading Post and then in 1889- Post office was established and 1904- Cannon Ball Store by John Leach
Cannon Ball had quite a bit Prominence in the early days due to the stage, streamboats and railroad traffic. Cannon Ball River was used for boat travel by such military expedition as Lewis and Clark, General Sully and many of the Fur Trader who visited the area. After the closing of Fort Rice the community started to decline with the closing of the trading post. Forest Otis who lived in Cannon Ball for many years and who knew everyone… had written of the development of Cannon Ball:
“The Cannon Ball River was a half way point for the long trip (two days) from Bismarck to Fort Yates. Parkin’s Ranch on the north side of the river had large barns and house that would accommodate travelers, so it was natural stopping place. The river could be a forded most times of the year and in the early days there were some restrictions on entering the reservation. This was the birthplace of the town of Cannon Ball.” (South of Cannon Ball, May E. Hinton, Washburn Printing Center, Grand Fork ND, pg 52)
The development of the Western North Dakota branch of the Northern Pacific Railway and the Cannon Ball branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railway started in 1900s. The Northern Pacific Rail Road had a passages train that traveled from Mandan North Dakota to Cannon Ball North Dakota. The Cannon Ball Junction was established for the train depot, store and feed store at the mouth of the Cannon Ball River, this was the junction of Northern Pacific Railroad lines in the northwest quarter of section 23-134-79, just north of present-day Cannon Ball. It was built in 1910 as BELDEN, and assumed this name when the town site on the south bank of the Cannonball River began to develop about 1915.
Íŋyaŋwakağapi- Sacred Stone
Lewis and Clark traveled up the Cannon Ball River for six miles on October 18, 1804. “above the mouth of this River, in and at the foot of the Bluff, and in the water is a number of round Stones, resembling Shells and Cannon balls of Different Sises, and of excellent grit for Grindstons” William Clark. On Thursday October 18, 1804 Lewis and Clark passed the mouth of the Cannonball River on their way upstream on the Missouri River. Here is a bit of what Clark wrote in his journal for the day.
“Set out early proceeded on at 6 mls passed the mouth of la [Le} Boulet (or Cannon Ball River) about 140 yards on the L.S.(comment mine: L.S means “lar board side” or south or west bank) this river heads in the Court Noi or Black Mountains (a fine Day) above the mouth of the river Great numbers of Stones perfectly round with fine Grit are in the Bluff and on the Shore, the river takes its name from those Stones which resemble Cannon Balls. The water of this river is confined within 40 yards.” Located near the Cannonball River will find the scared hills of the Mandan Indians. These twin buttes is where the Mandan emerged into the world again after the great flood. ” Along time ago there was two great floods; one flood that covered all the earth, the second flood that the water did not go over the highest points. The First man (Numchmuchnak) was in the first flood and told the people to how build an enclosure. There was four men they were called East Buffalo, South Buffalo, West Buffalo, and North Buffalo and they had one Mother Corn Woman. These men were good people and help the people get in the enclosure for safety. The holy men said they knew how to make logs grow longer, they tried willow switches around the top. The water stopped when it got to those willows. So all the people inside were saved from the flood. When the four men died they took their heads and put them in bundles so they are with them today. The story of this flood could only be told by the keeper of Okippe in the spring time. Near the Twin Butte is the area of the Okipa which is the Sun Dance grounds for the Mandan which was used for many generations. Then we have the medicine rock located in the area where there pictographic are recording our past along the river.
The mouth of the Cannon Ball was always a major trade area and river crossing for the tribes. The old crossing was shallow enough to bring good across the river before the building of the dams. There was the two large Arikara camps, plus the many Mandan camps along the mouth of the Cannon Ball. The tribes would gather for trade and it is recorded in the first Frenchmen to travel the Missouri River. In the 1930s the people of Cannon Ball came together for Sun Dance to pray for the war and our soldiers along the Cannon Ball River. This area has been a place of prayer by many tribes but today it is the place of prayer for the people of Cannon Ball. As a Ihunktonwana, Hunkpatina and Pabaska Oyate who have been though the Massacre at Whitestone Hill, Crow Creek prisoner of war camps, when releasing us from the prison camps to allowing us to move to the east side of the Missouri River and given land allotments, then to have the soldier come and move us across the Missouri River into the Cannon Ball area in 1873 and took our land and allotments without just compensation in the James River Valley and on the east side of the Missouri River then to take our homes with the Pick Sloan Act and flooding our lands now to put an oil pipeline next to our homes, schools, family graves, sacred sites and our water is a crime against nature.