North Dakota is a state of the north-central United States bordering on Canada. It was admitted as the 39th state in 1889. Acquired through the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and a border treaty with Great Britain (1818), the region became part of the Dakota Territory in 1861. It was set off from South Dakota when statehood was achieved. Bismarck is the capital and Fargo the largest city. Population: 636,000.
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Native Americans and the Fur Traders
The first farmers in the region of whom there is definite knowledge were Native Americans of the Mandan tribe. Other agricultural tribes were the Arikara and the Hidatsa. Seminomadic and nomadic tribes were the Cheyenne, Cree, Sioux, Assiniboin, Crow, and Ojibwa (Chippewa). With the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 the northwestern half of North Dakota became part of the United States. The southeastern half was acquired from Great Britain in 1818 when the international line with Canada was fixed at the 49th parallel. Earlier the Lewis and Clark expedition had wintered (1804–5) with the Mandan and the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company had established trading posts in the Red River valley. These ventures introduced an industry that dominated the region for more than half a century. Within that era the buffalo vanished from the plains and the beaver from the rivers. From its post at Fort Union, which was established in 1828, John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company gradually gained monopolistic control for a time over the region's trade. Supply and transport were greatly facilitated when a paddlewheel steamer, the Yellowstone, inaugurated steamboat travel on the turbulent upper Missouri in 1832. Additional transportation was provided by the supply caravans of Red River carts, which went westward across the Minnesota prairies and returned to the Mississippi loaded with valuable pelts. In 1837, the introduction of smallpox by settlers decimated the Mandan tribe.
Early Settlers and the Sioux
An attempt at agricultural colonization was made at Pembina in 1812 (see Red River Settlement), but the first permanent farming community was not established until 1851, when another group settled at Pembina. This was still the only farm settlement in the future state in 1851 when the Dakota Territory was organized. The territory included lands that would eventually became North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Several military posts had been established starting in 1857 to protect travelers and railroad workers. Even when free land was opened in 1863 and the Northern Pacific Railroad was chartered in 1864, concern with the Civil War and the eruption of open warfare with Native Americans discouraged any appreciable settlement. Gen. Alfred H. Sully joined Gen. Henry H. Sibley of Minnesota in campaigns against the Sioux in 1863–66. A treaty was signed in 1868. In 1876, after gold was discovered on Native American land in the Black Hills, the unwillingness of the whites to respect treaty agreements led to further war, and the force of George A. Custer was annihilated at the battle of the Little Bighorn in present-day Montana. Ultimately, however, the Sioux under Chief Sitting Bull fled to Canada, where they surrendered voluntarily; they were returned to reservations in the United States.
Immigration and Agrarian Discontent
The first cattle ranch in North Dakota was established in 1878. With the construction of railroads in the 1870s and 80s, thousands of European immigrants, principally Scandinavians, Germans, and Czechs, arrived. They worked the land on their own homesteads or on the large Eastern-financed bonanza wheat fields of the low central prairies. Borrowing the idea from Europe, they founded agricultural cooperatives. Local politics were rapidly reduced to a struggle between the agrarian groups and the corporate interests. Alexander McKenzie of the Northern Pacific was for many years the most important figure in the state. Republicans held the elective offices. Agrarian groups formed the Farmers' Alliance and in 1892, three years after North Dakota had achieved statehood, the Farmers' Alliance combined with the Democrats and Populists to elect Eli Shortridge, a Populist, as governor. Later, when the success of the La Follette Progressives in Wisconsin encouraged the growth of the Republican Progressive movement in North Dakota, a fusion with the Democrats elected Honest John Burke as governor for three terms (1906–12).
The Nonpartisan League
Much of the agrarian discontent was focused on marketing practices of the large grain interests. Although many small cooperative grain elevators were established, they did not prove effective, and the farmers pressed for state-owned grain elevators. When this movement failed in the legislature of 1915, the Nonpartisan League, directed in North Dakota by Arthur C. Townley, was organized on a platform that included state ownership of terminal elevators and flour mills, state inspection of grain and grain dockage, relief of farm improvements from taxation, and rural credit banks operated at cost. Working primarily with the Republican party because it was the majority party in North Dakota, the league captured the state legislature in 1919 and proceeded to enact virtually its entire platform. This included the establishment of an industrial commission to manage state-owned enterprises and the creation of the Bank of North Dakota to handle public funds and provide low-cost rural credit. The right of recall was also enacted, by which voters could remove an elected official. However, the reforms were disappointing in operation. Dissension arose within the league, and the Independent Voters Association was organized to represent the conservative Republican position. The industrial commission was accused of maladministration, and the provision of recall was exercised three times, the first against Gov. L. J. Frazier in 1921. William Langer, who had been active with both the Nonpartisan League and the Independent Voters Association, was elected governor in 1932 running as a Nonpartisan. Langer was convicted on a federal charge of misconduct in office in 1934, although the conviction was later reversed. Langer again became governor in 1936, running as an individual candidate and not on the ticket of either party; subsequently he was elected to the U.S. Senate four times.
Present-day North Dakota
The state's heavy dependence on wheat and petroleum has made it unusually vulnerable to fluctuations in those markets. Red River flooding in 1997 devastated Grand Forks, adding to economic problems. In recent years North Dakota has become more urbanized, and telecommunications and high-tech manufacturing have created jobs, but between 1990 and 2000 it had the slowest rate of population growth of all the states.
- The town of Rugby is the geographical center of North America. A rock obelisk about 15 feet tall, flanked by poles flying the United States and Canadian flags marks the location.
- North Dakota passed a bill in 1987 making English the official state language.
- Geologically speaking Hillsboro is located in a large, flat, and ancient dried lake bottom surrounded by some of the most fertile farmland in the world.
- Milk is the official state beverage.
- Westhope located on U.S. Highway 83 is a Port-of-Entry into Canada. Each year more than 72,000 vehicles cross the border at this point.
- An attempt to drop the word North from the state name was defeated by the 1947 Legislative Assembly. Again in 1989 the Legislature rejected two resolutions intended to rename the state Dakota.
- When Dakota Territory was created in 1861 it was named for the Dakota Indian tribe. Dakota is a Sioux word meaning friends or allies.
- Dakota Gasification Company in Beulah is the nation's only synthetic natural gas producer.
- Bottineau is the southwestern gateway to the Turtle Mountains, Lake Metigoshe and the International Peace Garden.
- Petroglyphs carved into two granite boulders give Writing Rock State Historic Site near Grenora its name. Though their origins are obscure, the drawings probably represent the Thunderbird, a mythological figure sacred to Late Prehistoric Plains Indians. Outlines of the bird, showing its wings extended and surrounded by abstract designs, appear on both boulders.
- The Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba on the north, Minnesota on the east, South Dakota to the south, and Montana as its western neighbor border North Dakota.
- Max G. Taubert of Casselton built a 50 foot high pyramid of empty oil cans. It is believed to be the highest oil can structure in the world.
- Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. Devils Lake derives its name from the Native American name Miniwaukan. Early explorers incorrectly translated the word to mean Bad Spirit. Bolstered by the many legends of drowned warriors and lake monsters the name evolved into Devils Lake. This very fertile prairie lake grows large numbers of the fish known as walleye, northern pike, and white bass. The lake has earned the reputation of being the Perch Capital of the World.
- This name Roughrider State originated in a state-supported tourism promotion of the 1960s and 70s. It refers to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry that Theodore Roosevelt organized to fight in the Spanish-American War.
- The Dakota Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson houses twelve full scale dinosaurs, thousands of rock, mineral and fossil specimens and a complete real Triceratops and Edmontosaurus.
- Richardton is home to the Abbey Church a Barvarian Romanesque structure. Lofty arches, 52 stained glass windows, 24 paintings of Saints on canvas above the arches, and a huge carved crucifix delineate the impressive interior.
- The Lone Tree Wildlife Management Area located southwest of Harvey consists of 33,000 acres of gently rolling hills bordering the Sheyenne River.
- The North Dakota State University research experiment station in Hettinger is the largest state owned sheep research center in the United States.
- Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site located on the western edge of Fort Yates marks the original grave of the Hunkpapa Sioux leader. During the Ghost Dance unrest of 1890 an attempt was made to arrest him at his home on the Grand River in South Dakota, and a skirmish ensued in which Sitting Bull was killed.
- The World's Largest Buffalo monument is located at Frontier Village in Jamestown. The structure is 26 feet high, 46 feet long, and weighs 60 ton.
- North Dakota grows more sunflowers than any other state.
- Chartered in 1884 Jamestown College is the oldest independent college in the state.
- Ellendale’s oldest attraction is the Opera House. Built in 1909 it has a seating capacity for 1000 patrons.
- Kenmare is the Goose Capital of North Dakota. Kenmare is the hunting haven of the north with an annual snow goose count being over 400,000 birds.
- Flickertail refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow.
- Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo is the home of North Dakota's oldest PRCA rodeo.
- From 1934 to 1941 the Civilian Conservation Corps maintained a base camp near Medora to perform landscape and restoration work on the 128 acre Chateau de Mores State Historic Site and the de Mores City Park, which opened to the public on August 7, 1941.
- President Theodore Roosevelt first came to Dakota Territory in September 1883 to hunt bison. Before returning home to New York, he became interested in the cattle business and established the Maltese Cross Ranch and the Elkhorn Ranch.
- The world famous Paul Broste Rock Museum in Parshall is built of natural granite quarried from the area. The entire structure was constructed with volunteer labor and opened for business in 1965. Paul called it his Acropolis on a hill.
- Named after Henry D. Minot, a young entrepreneurial visionary from the east, the town of Minot was conceived in the late 1800s. With the impending arrival of the Great Northern Railroad the town site was actually selected in November of 1886. Its phenomenal growth led to the early nickname Magic City.
- New Leipzig is known as The Small, Friendly German Town on the Dakota Prairie and hosts an annual Oktoberfest.
- The annual Central North Dakota Steam Threshers Reunion is one of New Rockford's main annual events. It is held the third weekend of September and boasts a variety of antique farm machinery
- Founded in 1978 Fort Berthold Community College is a tribally chartered college located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near the town of New Town.
- Niewoehner Funeral Home in Rugby has changed the skyline of Rugby with the construction of a 30 foot tower containing 13 bells. The largest bells, of which there are two, are 40 inches in diameter and weigh about 1,300 pounds each.
- Only one word is needed to describe Lake Sakakawea country - big. From the massive two-mile long Garrison Dam near Riverdale to the end of Lake Sakakawea near Williston, Lake Sakakawea is nearly 200 miles long with a shoreline of countless bays and inlets that cover 1,600 miles.
- The American elm (Ulmus americana) is the official state tree and is commonly found across North Dakota. The American elm often reaches 120 feet or taller.
- In 1982 Rutland hosted what was considered the grand daddy of all celebrations when the town went into the "Guinness Book of World Records" with the cooking and eating of the World's Largest Hamburger. That year, between 8 and 10 thousand people came to sample the tasty 3591 pound burger.
- The rich heritage of Grand Forks is preserved at the Myra Museum featuring an 1890's home dedicated to pioneer women, a one-room school, carriage house, and the city's original log Post Office.
- Turtle Lake celebrates turtles, hard-shelled reptiles often found in the water. Turtle Lake has erected a two-ton sculpture of a turtle near the entrance to the city. The town is the home of the annual United States Turtle Racing Championship.
- Of the 50 states North Dakota is 17th in size, with 70,665 square miles. North Dakota is 212 miles long north to south and 360 miles wide east to west.
- Lawrence Welk left his home in Strasburg on his birthday in 1924 to pursue his musical career. On July 2, 1955, he made his debut on national television. The Lawrence Welk Show was produced for 26 years and today reruns of the popular program air weekly throughout the United States and foreign countries.
- The Lewis and Clark expedition encountered their first grizzly (brown) bears in North Dakota.
- A 12-foot-high bronze statue of Sakakawea and her baby son Baptiste stands at the entrance to the North Dakota Heritage Center on the state capitol grounds in Bismarck. The statue, by Chicago artist Leonard Crunelle, depicts Sakakawea with her baby strapped to her back and looking westward toward the country she helped to open.
- Located southwest of Medora, De Mores State Historic Site memorializes the life and activities in North Dakota of Antoine de Vallombrosa the Marquis de Mores who arrived in 1883. Among his enterprises were a beef packing plant, a stagecoach line, a freighting company, refrigerated railway cars, cattle and sheep raising, land ownership and a new town which he called Medora.
- The piles of rock on White Butte, North Dakota's highest point, are known of as rock johnnies or sheepherder's monuments and according to legend were piled there by sheepherders as a way to pass the time while they tended their flocks.
- The International Peace Garden straddles the international Boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. In 1956 the North Dakota Motor Vehicle Department, on its own initiative, placed the words Peace Garden State on license plates; the name proved so popular that it was formally adopted by the 1957 legislature.
- The official state flower is the wild prairie rose. The flower sports five bright pink petals with a tight cluster of yellow stamens in the center. The state rose grows along roadsides, in pastures and in native meadows.
- The Big Hidatsa village site was occupied from about 1740 to 1850 and is the largest of three Hidatsa communities near the mouth of the Knife River. It is believed to contain the best-defined earth lodge depressions of any major Native American site in the Great Plains.
- Fort Union Trading Post was the principal fur-trading depot in the Upper Missouri River region from 1829 to 1867.
- Only the Best Come North is the motto of the Minot Air Force Base located a few miles outside Minot's city limits. The military community draws personnel from all over the world.
- www.nd.gov - Official website.
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