History of North Dakota

North Dakota was claimed in 1682 by the French when La Salle took possession of the territories washed by the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. in 1713, France ceded part of North Dakota to Great Britain, while the rest was annexed to Louisiana. During this time, North Dakota remained unexplored for many years as the first European to venture into these lands was the Frenchman Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, who in 1738 devoted himself to hunting and trading in hides in North Dakota. The business that this Frenchman started grew in the following years, so companies like North West or Hudson’s Company established commercial sites in the region. After the Seven Years War (1741-1763) part of North Dakota was administered by Spain. The expedition of Lewis and Clark (1804-1806) that Jefferson organized to explore the western regions, passed through the lands that now form the state of North Dakota, they built Fort Madan, on the banks of the Missouri River. After Lewis and Clark, the American Fur Company, a company engaged in the fur trade, began operating in this region.

In 1812, the first settlers from Canada arrived in North Dakota. In 1818, Britain and the United States signed a treaty by which they set their borders in the area. With this agreement, North Dakota was definitively recognized as a US territory. In 1861, the United States Congress created the Dakota Territory which included the current states of the two Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. During the Civil War (1861-1865), North Dakota was not directly involved in the war, but on its territory there were bloody battles against the Sioux who were expropriated of their lands and transferred to the reserves, while their lands were assigned to the new settlers. The final treaty was signed in 1881 between the United States Army and the Sioux leader, Sitting Bull. A few years earlier, in 1872, the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in North Dakota, where the city of Fargo was founded.

The early Dakota Territory was reorganized during the 19th century. Thus, when the state was admitted to the Union, it was considered convenient that the territory was divided into two entities, North Dakota and South Dakota, since the population was concentrated in these two areas. The division and admission took place in 1889. During the last decades of the 19th century, many settlers from Europe arrived, mainly from Germany and Norway.

The Depression of the 1920s and 1930s had severe effects on North Dakota’s agrarian economy as, due to lack of funding, it was unable to cope with falling prices and overcome the effect of severe droughts. The World War managed to modestly improve the serious economic situation of the state, thanks to the needs of the army, but the war did not have a revitalizing effect comparable to that which happened in other states. After the war, the lack of labor in the agricultural sector (due to strong emigration) forced an intense mechanization of the countryside. While, the authorities made plans for economic development, such as the construction of the Garrison Dam, completed in 1960, and attempted to attract new industries through tax incentives. Mining production and, especially oil drilling, managed to reactivate the economy starting from the 1970s.

North Dakota: what to see

Tourist and cultural sites – The most important cultural institutions are the North Dakota State Historical Society Museum, in Bismarck; the University Museum, in Grand Forks; the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks and the Frontier Museum in Williston. Other historically and culturally interesting sites include Forts Abercrombie, Buford, Clark, Dilts, Mandan, Pembina, Ransom, Rice, Seward, Totten and Union, and the Tomb of the Sioux Chief, Sitting Bull.

Close to the cultural traditions that keep the Indian tribes confined to the reserves of this state, those of the descendants of the settlers of Norwegian origin who, together with other Scandinavians, Germans, Czechs, Canadians and Russians settled in large numbers from the end of the nineteenth century in this region.

Among the main tourist attractions is the International Peace Garden, which commemorates the friendly relations between the United States and Canada. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, south of Mandan, it has been restored to evoke the 1870s, when General Custer left the area for his “last battle” against the Sioux. North Dakota’s most spectacular landscapes are found in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The city of Medora in the west of the state serves as the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the beautiful badlands of North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is divided into three areas: the North Unit, the South Unit and the Elkhorn Ranch. The South Unit, rich in rock formations, has the Painted Canyon inside, which can be visited on horseback or admired from a scenic drive by car. The North Unit has an abandoned meander of the Little Missouri River. It is a lunar landscape made up of mushroom-shaped rock formations and windswept grasslands. Unlike the South Unit, which is popular with tourists, this area is in a very isolated area. A 22 km road that can be traveled by car leads to hiking trails and many spectacular viewpoints.

Devils Lake – Of glacial origin, the lake has miles of coastline and has no natural emissaries, making it very suitable for fishing and sailing. The Fort Totten State Historic Site is one of the best-preserved post-war American Army forts. The restored buildings contain period furniture.

Fun Fact – Hunting and fishing are important recreational activities in North Dakota.

North Dakota State Flag

About the author