North Dakota State Overview

By | October 5, 2022

In the north of the United States of America lies the sparsely populated federal state of North Dakota. It is bordered by Canada to the north, other neighboring states are Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota. As the 39th state of the Union, North Dakota was admitted on November 2, 1889, the same day as South Dakota. Until 1889, North and South Dakota were one territory.

Since a significant part of North Dakota lies in the territory of the Great Plains, its surface is mostly flat, with vast prairies. Only to the southwest rises a hilly landscape with the highest peak, White Butte, measuring 1,069 meters above sea level. Rock cities are hidden in the mountains, which are a great attraction for tourists. In addition, the landscape here is covered with coniferous forests and dotted with numerous lakes, such as Lake Sakakawea and Lake Ohe. The eastern part of the country is agricultural, with many large farms and endless fields stretching across rolling plains.

A large part of North Dakota is drained by the Missouri, on which Garrison Dam was built. Other important streams are the James River and the Red River. There is a relatively harsh inland climate with large temperature differences between summer and winter.

The original inhabitants of North Dakota were Indians of the numerous Sioux tribe, who were known for their intransigence and fighting. One of the Sioux tribes were also the Dakotas, after whom the area was named. The word “Dakota” meant “friends” or “allies”. However, these Indians hated the whites who came here in the early 18th century and tried to take away their freedom and their land. The White settlers also had a fondness for the numerous natural riches that the land hid, mainly gold and diamonds. There were numerous fights, many whites were captured, tortured and killed. These attractions attracted many cowboys and bandits to the country, the original Indian population was gradually completely pushed out.

According to TRACKAAH, around 700,000 people live in North Dakota, so the population density is very low – only 3,592 people per km². Around 92% of the population is white, 2% is black and the rest are Indians, mixed race and Asian. About 86% of the population is Christian, Protestants and Roman Catholics predominate. Around 10% of the population has no religious affiliation.

The mining (coal, lignite, oil, natural gas), petrochemical, engineering, printing, food and construction materials industries are of great importance to the country’s economy. Agriculture is focused on the cultivation of wheat, corn, barley, sunflower, sugar beet and cattle breeding.

The capital of North Dakota has been Bismarck since 1889, which also serves as the municipal seat of Burleigh County. The city was founded in 1872 and today it has around 60,000 inhabitants. The town was originally called Edwinton, but in 1873 it was renamed to today’s Bismarck in honor of the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. According to COUNTRYAAH, the largest city in the country is Fargo with 90 thousand inhabitants, other interesting cities are Grand Forks, Minot, Mandan, Dickinson, Jamestown, West Fargo, Williston and Wahpeton.

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

The partially restored Fort Union Trading Post is a National Historic Site that was once an important point in the trade route between the Missouri River and North Dakota. Located near the town of Williston, near the border between Montana and North Dakota, it is one of the first places in America to be designated a National Historic Site.

The fort was built in 1829 near the confluence of the rivers and relatively quickly became a sought-after trading location, especially for fur traders. It was not a government or military post, but a company that was established for the purpose of doing business. Trade flourished here with the Indian tribes inhabiting the northern plains here. These were mainly people of the Assiniboine, Crow, Cree, Ojibway, Blackfeet, Hidatsa and others.

However, not only buffalo skins and furs were traded here, but also beads, clay pipes, weapons, blankets, knives, dishes, clothes and, above all, alcohol, which some Indians literally fell for. Trade flourished here until 1867, making Fort Union America’s longest-running fur trading post. Notable visitors to the fort included the likes of John James Audubon, George Catlin, Father Pierre Desmet, Sitting Bull, Karl Bodmer, and Jim Bridger.

A lot of archeological work took place on the site in the 20th century, in 1961 Fort Union was declared a National Cultural Monument, and in 1966 it was transferred to the National Park Service.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was established in 1974 and preserves valuable historical and archaeological remains of dwellings that were once home to Northern Plains Indian tribes. This entire area was one of the leading trading and agricultural locations and was home to three Native American villages, namely Awatixa Xi´e (the oldest), Awatixa and Big Hidatsa Village (founded around 1600). These three villages are collectively known as the Hidatsa Villages.

Knife River Indian Villages NHS is located in central North Dakota, where the Knife River meets the Missouri River. The area is about half a mile north of the town of Stanton and about an hour’s drive from Bismarck. Along the course of the river, it is possible to see a number of interesting monuments, but also vast and endless plains. Nature has created a kind of wooded peninsula in the Knife River area.

The villages served as important trade centers where different cultures and nationalities met. The Native Americans acted as brokers of trade between the white immigrants, trading not only in furs, but also in weapons, metal, cloth, and jewelry. Their activity was seen from the Great Plains region to the west coast of the Pacific.

In the villages today, the remains of the original Indian dwellings can be seen, which were dug into the ground and looked like large circular depressions in the terrain. Some were as much as 12 meters in diameter, and many of them were large enough to fit 20 families, a few horses and dogs. Eventually, these houses were abandoned and their inhabitants went to an unknown destination.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site