North Dakota History

Like many other states in the U.S., such as Oklahoma and Arkansas, North Dakota was originally settled by various Native American tribes. They were the first farmers in the region and were of the Mandan Indian tribe, known as the agricultural tribe, along with the Hidatsa and Arikara groups. There were also a large number of nomadic and semi-nomadic Indian tribes including Cree, Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, Chippewa, and Assiniboin that came to live in North Dakota. The many intriguing facts about North Dakota illustrate the time of these early descendants through a more modern, yet still captivating state.

The Louisiana Purchase had a great impact on the history of North Dakota. After completion of the agreement in 1803, the northwest portion of North Dakota officially belonged to the United States, while the southeast area was later acquired from the British. The U.S. owned the region as part of new borders established in the year when the 49th parallel was set as the international border between Canada and the United States. Other significant facts about North Dakota from the very early nineteenth century regard the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. The expedition spent the winter with the Mandan tribe, and both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company created prominent trading posts in the Red River Valley.

With the invention of the paddlewheel steamboat in 1832, transportation of supplies along the Missouri River became easier. These Red River carts helped greatly to transport supplies, traveling west through the prairies of Minnesota, returning to the Mississippi River with bundles of costly pelts. The Mandan tribe was devastated by smallpox carried into North Dakota by new settlers around this time.

In 1878 the first cattle ranch was established on the vast, rich land. This advancement was a monumental step in the history of North Dakota for settlers who had also started reaping the benefits of railroad construction in the early 1870s. The building of the railroads continued throughout the 1870s, connecting far-reaching areas such as current-day Williston, in the western part of the state, to the eastern region where Fargo and Grand Forks meet the Minnesota border. With this new source of transportation, thousands of European immigrants—mainly Czechs, Scandinavians, and Germans—were drawn to the state and wove their influences into North Dakota history. Primarily, they worked the prairie wheat fields financed by Europeans, and on their own farms with their families. It's these historical facts about North Dakota which account for some of the most important expansion on state record.

In 1881 official statehood was attained for North Dakota. With farming as the primary means of survival, there was discontent over the way the state's grain marketing was handled by the larger crop interests. Along with the European immigrants came the European practice of agricultural cooperatives, which helped establish small grain elevators through collective cooperatives. This didn't prove effective, and the farmers continued pressing for state-controlled grain elevators. During the congress of 1915, the Non-Partisan League of North Dakota's objectives were laid out. They included state-owned and state-controlled flour mills and grain elevators, farm improvements that were not taxed, state-inspected grain, and credit banks created specifically to aid farms at a minimum cost.

A lasting struggle between corporate interests and the agricultural sector divided the people of North Dakota. For several years in the history of North Dakota, Alexander MacKenzie was a prominent figure in the Republicans’ electoral offices. The celebrated Farmer's Alliance was formed in 1892. "Honest John" Burke took the seat as governor for three consecutive terms, representing the people after the Republican Progressive crusade.

Modern-day North Dakota history can be seen in the sweeping Badlands and the isolated ghost towns located throughout the state. These desolate and abandoned communities offer interesting facts about North Dakota and paint a picture of once-flourishing towns that collapsed after the closure of railroad stops and the creation of the automobiles, among other factors. In 1997, the Red River Valley experienced mass flooding and its devastating effects were felt in Grand Forks. A large dependence on petroleum and wheat also added to economic problems as markets fluctuated.

A recent urban renewal, along with growth in the technology and telecommunications fields has had positive effects on the economy and supplements North Dakota history to make for a more interesting visit to this state. More tourism has also helped the state climb out of its economic struggles. Today, North Dakota vacations are popular with visitors heading to major points of interest such as Theodore Roosevelt Park, the many magnificent wildlife refuges and parks, and the fascinating Enchanted Highway.

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