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       1891 photograph {detail} of Gen. Miles and staff observing a tipi camp at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota        Brief History
Louisiana Purchase, 1803
Dakota Territory, 1861-1889
Statehood, 1889

Regional Links

North Dakota

South Dakota

Railroads of The Dakotas

Indian Country of The Dakotas

Reading Material, Other Media


A Brief History
          Napoleon Bonaparte of France needed cash for his war against the English, so he was glad to turn loose of the French landholdings in faraway America that were basically the western half of the Mississippi River watershed. Against domestic opposition, President Thomas Jefferson paid $15 million in 1803 for the 828,000 square miles (2,140,000 km²), which was 3’ per acre in 1803 dollars (or 42’ per acre in 2012 dollars). Jefferson also commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition that departed Illinois in May 1804, reached the mouth of the Columbia River in December 1805, and returned to St. Louis in September 1806; the trip was roughly 4,300 miles in length and took two years, four months, and ten days time.

          The northern portion of the Louisiana Purchase became the Dakota Territory on 2 March 1861, covering present-day North & South Dakota, most of present-day Montana, and about half of present-day Wyoming. Settlers stayed away due to the hostile Indian tribes until after the U.S. Civil War, at which time the Northern Pacific Railway began laying track from Minne-sota, across North Dakota, toward Seattle & Tacoma in Oregon Territory. The discovery of gold at French Creek in the Black Hills (by George Custer!) increased pressure to conquer the warlike Native American tribes. Custer died, of course, at the Battle of Little Big Horn in June 1876, which although a victory for the Indians, magnified political pressure in the East to push the Indians back.
          The Lakota and Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes were defeated by the U.S. Army in Spring 1877, and the Indians were restricted to reservations and treated badly by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. (The U.S. Supreme Court found in July 1980 that the Black Hills were taken from the Lakota illegally, and awarded them $106 million. The Lakota Tribe refuses to take the money because they want their sacred land back; the payment is stashed in an interest-earning escrow account and has grown to $760 million.)

          The population of the Dakota Territory grew rapidly after the Indians were pacified, and the states of North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted to the Union together on 2 November 1889 as the 39th & 40th states. (Montana also was admitted in November 1889, and Wyoming was admitted in July 1890.)

A Few Important People of Dakota Territory

author L. Frank Baum [1856-1919] & family lived for three years in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory

Oglala Lakota shaman Black Elk

Martha 'Calamity Jane' Cannary {Burke} [1852-1903]

Crazy Horse [1840?–1877], Oglala Lakota war leader

Gen. Crook

Gen. George Armstrong Custer

James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok [1837-76]

Lewis & Clark Expedition [1804-06]

Gen. Miles

Rain-in-the-Face [1835?–1905], Hunkpapa Lakota chief

Red Cloud [1822–1909], Oglala Lakota chief

Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt [1858-1919]

Sitting Bull [1831?–1890], Hunkpapa Lakota spiritual leader

Touch the Clouds [1837?–1905], Miniconjou Teton Lakota chief

author Laura Ingalls Wilder [1867-1957]

Regional Links
Northern Broadcasting System [est. 1975] operates in MT, ND, SD & WY

"Giants of The Earth: A Saga of The Prairie" [1927 novel] by Ole Rφlvaag

"Dakota" [1955 novel?] by Jack Schaefer [1907-91]
Curtis Publng mass pb [1955] out of print/scarce

Theodore Roosevelt and The Dakota Badlands book by Chester Brooks & Ray Mattison  "Theodore Roosevelt and The Dakota Badlands" [N.P.S. brochure 1958]
by Chester L. Brooks & Ray H. Mattison

Kindle Edition from indep [5/2012] for $5.97
TRN&H Assn. 9x5¾ chapbook [rev 1983] out of print/used
National Park Service chapbook [1962] out of print/used
National Park Service chapbook [1958] out of print/used
'Dakota Boomtown' Western novel by Frank Castle   "Dakota Boomtown" Western novel [1958] by Frank Castle
Penniless vagrant Jack Stuart endures street fights, crazy gambling bets, and hotel ambushes to stand up to the richest, most powerful men in town.
Fawcett Gold Medal mass pb [5/79] out of print/used
Fawcett Gold Medal mass pb [1958] out of print/used
Fawcett Gold Medal mass pb [1958] out of print/used
Fawcett Gold Medal mass pb [1958] out of print/used
Dakota novel about Teddy Roosevelt by Matt Braun   "Dakota" [2005 novel] by Matt Braun
New York politician Theodore Roosevelt's wife and mother died on the same night in February 1884; depressed and fed up with politics, he 'retired' that Summer to his ranch in North Dakota, restoring his body and his soul with the life of an outdoorsman; after the severe winter of 1886-87 wiped out the cattle ranchers, he returned to New York.
Kindle Edition from Macmillan [4/2010] for $7.99
St. Martin's mass pb [8/2005] out of print/many used
Theodore Roosevelt's Speeches in Dakota book edited by James F. Vivian  "The Romance of My Life: Theodore Roosevelt's Speeches In Dakota" [1989]
Edited by James F. Vivian

Prairie House hardcover [6/89] out of print/used
Theodore Roosevelt in the Dakota Badlands book by Clay L. Jenkinson  
"Theodore Roosevelt In The Dakota Badlands: An Historical Guide" [2006]
by Clay S. Jenkinson

Dickinson State Univ 7¼x4 pb [2006] out of print/used
Theodore Roosevelt In The Badlands book by Roger DiSilvestro  "Theodore Roosevelt In The Badlands: A Young Politician's Quest For Recovery In The American West" [2011] by Roger L. DiSilvestro
Kindle Edition from Walker Books [3/2011] for $10.46
Walker & Co. 8¼x5½ pb [9/2012] for $11.01
Walker & Co. 9½x6½ hardcover [3/2011] for $20.52

flag of the State of North Dakota         seal of State of North Dakota [est. 1889]          North Dakota state quarter of 2006

North Dakota Official Government Links & Info
North Dakota covers 70,700 square miles {183,272 square kilometers}.
Estimated population of 16,000 in 1878, grew to almost 600,000 population by 1910, and has remained fairly steady in the 100 years since then.
The current population is 739,482 (2014 estimate); the density is 10.5/square mile (ranked 47th).
The state was admitted to the Union on 2 November 1889 {the 39th state}.
The popular names are 'Roughrider State', 'Flickertail State', 'Peace Garden State', 'Sioux State'.
The state flower is the Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana); the state tree is the American Elm (Ulmus americana).
The state bird is the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta).
The state animal is the Nokota horse; the state fish is the Northern pike (Esox lucius).
Time zones in North Dakota are Central Time for most of the state, Mountain Time in the lower corner south & west of the Missouri River.

Official Website of the State of North Dakota
'Legendary' North Dakota Tourism Dept.

Statewide Links
browse travel books about North Dakota U.S.A. at Amazon
North Dakota entry at Wikipedia
North Dakota Farm Bureau [est. 1941] based in Fargo, North Dakota
NewPages.com's Directory of Independent Bookstores for North Dakota

North Dakota Farmers Union [est. 1927] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]

A Few Important People of North Dakota
Governor Jack Dalrymple [sworn 12/2010]
former Governor, now U.S. Senator John Hoeven [since 2011]
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp [since 2013; Dem]
at-large Congressman Kevin Cramer [since 2013; GOP]


Warren Christopher (1925–2011)

actress Angie Dickinson

Native American author Louise Erdrich

Western author Louis L'Amour [1908-88]

singer Peggy Lee

Theodore Roosevelt 26th president of the United States

radio & TV talk show host Ed Schultz

comic actress Ann Sothern

North Dakota author Larry Watson lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
browse books at Amazon • official website • Wikipedia

TV bandleader Lawrence Welk [1903-92]

North Dakota Poet Laureate [since 1995] & author Larry Alfred Woiwode

Travel & Business Links

Bismarck and Mandan are across the Missouri River from each other.
Bismarck-Mandan, ND C.V.B.

state capitol Bismarck, North Dakota [est. 1872]
Bismarck, ND official website • Bismarck, ND entry at Wikipedia
historic Bob's Big Boy Bismarck [built 1954], 2511 E. Main Avenue in Bismarck, North Dakota
Fort Lincoln World War II Internment Camp in Bismarck, North Dakota

City of Mandan, North Dakota [founded 1879]
Mandan, ND official website • Mandan, ND entry at Wikipedia

City of Fargo, North Dakota [est. 1871]
Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota, with nearly 16% of the state's population.
official website • entry at Wikipedia
Fargo Theatre [1926] in Fargo ND
www.Eagle1069.com in Fargo ND + syndication in CA
North Dakota State University [est. 1890]
GOLD STAR: After a law making LGBT people and others second-class citizens barely failed in the state legislature, the owner of Fargo's Red Raven Espresso Parlor posted a sign in the front window stating that the 56 legislators who voted FOR the apartheid law were unwelcome there and would NOT be served (asterisk) 'unless accompanied by a person from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transsexual community'  Red Raven Espresso Parlor [est. 2010] in the 1910 firehouse at 916/914 Main Avenue in Fargo, North Dakota

flag of the State of South Dakota         Great Seal of the State of South Dakota [est. 1889]         South Dakota state quarter of 2006

South Dakota Official Government Links & Info
South Dakota covers 77,116 square miles {199,905 square kilometers}.
The current population is 853,175 (2014 estimate); the density is 11.1/square mile (ranked 46th).
The state was admitted to the Union on 2 November 1889 {the 40th state}.
The popular name is 'Mount Rushmore State'.
The state flower is the American Pasque flower; the state tree is the Black Hills Spruce.
The state animal is the Coyote; the state bird is the Ring-necked Pheasant.
Time zones in South Dakota are Central in the eastern half, Mountain in the western half.

Official Website of the State of South Dakota
South Dakota Department of Tourism

Statewide Links
browse travel books about South Dakota U.S.A. at Amazon
South Dakota entry at Wikipedia
independent South Dakota Tourism website
NewPages.com's Directory of Independent Bookstores for South Dakota

South Dakota Farmers Union [est. 1914] branch of the National Farmers  Union [est. 1902]

South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation [est. 1999] based in Huron, South Dakota
South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1917] based in Huron, South Dakota

A Few Important People of South Dakota
Gov. Dennis Daugaard [since 2011; GOP]

retiring U.S. Senator Timothy Peter 'Tim' Johnson [1997-2014; Dem]
people's candidate & Democrat Rick Weiland ran for the open South Dakota Senate seat in 2014
campaign website • Wikipedia

U.S. Senator John Randolph Thune [since 2005; GOP] is up for re-election in 2016
at-large Congresswoman Kristi Noem [since 2013; GOP]


mega-sculptor Gutzon Borglum []

U.S. Senator & Vice President Hubert Humphrey [1911–78]

journalist & libertarian Rose Wilder Lane [1886-1968] was born in De Smet, Dakota Territory

U.S. Senator George McGovern [1922–2012]

Native American activist Russell Means [1939-2012]

Gary Owens [1936-2015], radio-TV announcer & voice actor

vaudevillian & actor & author Charles Partlow 'Chic' Sale [1885-1936] was born in Huron, Dakota Territory

rodeo performer Casey Tibbs [1929–90]

Travel & Business Links
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota Mt Rushmore = www.NPS.gov/moru/

Ted Turner's Bad River Ranch in central South Dakota
South Dakota Animation Festival [Oct 2013 = #3] in Brookings, South Dakota
South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota

www.Deadwood.org = Deadwood's CofC
www.historicFranklinHotel.com [est. 1903]
www.PennyMotel.com in Deadwood
The Midnight Star in Deadwood, South Dakota. http://www.themidnightstar.com

Oscar Micheaux Film & Book Festival {store} in Gregory, South Dakota
Outhouse Museum, 520 Main Street in Gregory, South Dakota
Badger Clark Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering [September] in Hot Springs, South Dakota
Dakotaland Pioneer Museum – Huron, South Dakota
Pyle House Museum [built 1894], 376 Idaho Avenue SE in Huron, South Dakota
Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop [est. 1978] in Letcher, South Dakota
Hay Camp Brewing Co. - Rapid City's first microbrewery
Wall Drug Store [founded 1931] in Wall, South Dakota


Railroads of The Dakotas
listing of surviving steam locomotives in North Dakota
listing of surviving steam locomotives in South Dakota
'list of North Dakota railroads' page at Wikipedia
'list of South Dakota railroads' page at Wikipedia
TrainWeb / Tourist Railways / North & South Dakota website got hacked {2017}
there is no U.P.R.R. Shortline Railroad Profiles Page for North Dakota
U.P.R.R. Shortline Railroad Profiles for South Dakota

there is no Amtrak passenger service in South Dakota (2014)


Indian Country of The Dakotas

flag of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota [est. 1889]      seal of Crow Creek Sioux Tribe [est. 1863]
There are eleven Native American tribal reservations in the Dakotas, for members of the Blackfeet, Chippewa, Sioux, and several minor tribes.

Cheyenne River Indian Reservation [est. 1868] of the Blackfeet, Miniconjou, Sans Arcs & Two Kettle Sioux {in South Dakota}

Crow Creek and Old Winnebago Indian Reservation [est. 1863] of the Sioux Tribe {in South Dakota}
official website • entry at Wikipedia

Devils Lake Indian Reservation [est. 1867] of the Spirit Lake Tribe {in North Dakota}

Fort Berthold Indian Reservation [est. 1851] of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nations {in North Dakota}

Lake Traverse Indian Reservation [est. 1867] of the Sisseton & Wahpeton Sioux {in South Dakota}

Lower Brulι Indian Reservation [est. 1868] of the Lower Brulι & Yanktonai Sioux {in South Dakota}

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation [est. 1889] of the Oglala Sioux Nation {in South Dakota}
official website • entry at Wikipedia

Rosebud Indian Reservation [est. 1868] of the Sioux {in South Dakota}

Standing Rock Indian Reservation [est. 1868] of the Blackfeet, Hunkpapa & Yanktonai Sioux {in North Dakota}

Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation [est. 1882] band of Chippewa Indians {in North Dakota}
tribal website • K.K. Bold's tribal fansite

Yankton Indian Reservation [est. 1868] of the Yankton Sioux {in South Dakota}

Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band novel by Frances Washburn  "The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band" [2014]
by Frances Washburn

Set in 1969 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota; a local rock band
is run off the stage by a barrage of beer bottles, and before night's end, local
activist Buffalo Ames is dead.

Univ AZ Press 8¼x5½ pb [2/2014] for $13.16
author's ASU-AIS faculty homepage

Reading Material & Other Media
browse travel books about North Dakota U.S.A. at Amazon
browse travel books about South Dakota U.S.A. at Amazon

Dakota Farmer Magazine [] subscription  
Dakota Farmer Magazine
subscribe at Amazon: 15 issues/year for $26.95
magazine website
publisher Farm Progress [est. 1819] entry at Wikipedia
The Homesteader 1917 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "The Homesteader: A Novel" [1917]
by filmmaker Oscar Micheaux [1884-1951]

A young Afro-American purchases land in South Dakota, and in the face of drought, pestilence & foreclosure, he turns to writing; his marriage to the daughter of a Chicago minister collapses in acrimony and high drama. The 1919 movie was the first feature-length film by an Afro-American director; no prints exist.
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [10/2007] for $32.64
Univ Nebraska Press 8x5¼ pb [5/94] out of print/used
Kessinger Publng 9x6 hardcover [6/2008] for $42.30

Unequal Contest book by Robert Vogel  "Unequal Contest: Bill Langer & His Political Enemies" [2004]
by Robert Vogel

Langer was a populist leader in North Dakota who fought for economic justice, was impeached as Governor, was re-elected, and then served as a U.S. Senator.
Crain Grosinger pb [9/2004] out of print/used
Prairie Republic / Dakota Territory book by Jon K. Lauck  "Prairie Republic: The Political Culture of Dakota Territory, 1879-1889" [2010]
by Jon K. Lauck

Univ Oklahoma Press 8½x5½ hardcover [5/2010] for $32.95
Univ Oklahoma Press 8½x5½ hardcover [5/2010] out of print/used
Swede's Ferry Western novel by Allan Safarik  "Swede's Ferry: A Novel" [2013] by Allan Safarik,
with Illustrations by Frederic Remington [1861-1909]

A Canadian Mountie robs the bank at Bismarck, North Dakota and runs afoul of railroad magnate James J. Hill and of vicious detective Wm. Pinkerton and his brutal henchmen.
Kindle Edition from Coteau Books [10/2013] for $7.96
Coteau Books 8½x5½ pb [10/2013] for $16.37



Crude Independence docufilm by Noah Hutton  "Crude Independence" documentary feature [indep 2009]
When oil was discovered under North Dakota in the Bakken Shale formation in 2006, oil companies swarmed over the land, expecting that they would get rich very quickly using new 'fracking' technologies. Filmmaker Hutton {son of Debra Winger} documented the changes that took place in the tiny (pop. 1,300) town of Stanley.
Exec produced by Jonathan Demme; directed by Noah Hutton
DVD/Blu-ray not yet available • credits at IMDb
watch 9/2008 official trailer [4:20] at YouTube

here on G.E. Nordell's The Dakotas Travel & Business Links Page

top of page • brief history • regional links • North Dakota • South Dakota •

Indian Country • reading material, other media

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