North Dakota - Encyclopedia

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NORTH DAKOTA, one of the North Central states of the American Union, between 45° 55' and 49° N., and 96° 25' and 104° 3' W. It is bounded N. by the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, S. by South Dakota, W. by Montana and E. by Minnesota, from which it is separated by the Red river (or Red river of the North). North Dakota has an extreme length, E. and W., of 360 m., an extreme width, N. and S., of 210 m., and a total area of 70,837 sq. m., of which 6J4 sq. m. are water surface.

Table of contents


North Dakota lies in the Prairie Plains and Great Plains physiographic provinces. The escarpment of the Coteau du Missouri is the dividing line, that portion to the N. and E. lying in the Prairie Plains, that to the S. W. in the Great Plains. The surface presents few striking topographic features, and may be subdivided into three vast plains or prairie tablelands rising one above the other from E. to W., the two easternmost together constituting the Prairie Plains portion of the state. The lowest of these plains is the valley of the Red river, and this valley extends along the eastern edge of the state and varies in width from 25 to 70 m. Its elevation is 965 ft. at Wahpeton, in the extreme S.E.; 903 ft. at Fargo; 836 ft. at Grand Forks; and 798 ft. at Pembina, in the extreme N.E., which is the lowest point within the state. To the W. of this valley lies a second plain, ranging in height from 1200 to 1600 ft. above sea level, and in width from 75 m. in the S. to 200 m. in the N. This plain is separated from the Red river valley in the N. by an abrupt slope rising to a height of from 300 to Soo ft. above the surrounding country, and called the Manitoba escarpment, because the greater part of it lies in the province of Manitoba. The Pembina Mountains, low hills near the international boundary and about 30 m. W. of the Red river, form a portion of this escarpment. From these hills southward the ridge gradually becomes less abrupt until in Walsh county it vanishes into prairie. The ascent to the upper plain then becomes very gentle, though there is a rise of 400 or 50o ft., until it reaches the south-eastern portion of Sargent county and changes into the more abrupt Coteau des Prairies, a plateau about 2000 ft. above the sea. The second plain, while not so level as the Red river valley, contains but one group of hills, the Turtle Mountains; these rise from 300 to 400 ft. above the general level, near the centre of the northern boundary. The prairies in this second table-land are gently rolling, and are covered with drift from the continental ice-sheet of the glacial period. They are bounded on the W. by a ridge from 300 to 400 ft. in height and from 20 to 50 m. in width, which roughly marks the dividing line between the farming lands of the E. and the grazing lands of the W. The northern portion of this ridge forms the water-parting between the streams that empty into Hudson Bay and those that flow into the Gulf of Mexico. To the W. of this ridge lies the third and highest plain within the state, the so-called Coteau du Missouri. It occupies nearly one half of the state, and rises gradually westward until it attains a general level of about 2700 ft. East of the Missouri river this region is covered with glacial drift, and is noticeably different from the more level lands of the lower plains. The ice-sheet wore down from the hills and filled the valleys with debris until the surface has a billowy appearance. As the Missouri river marks approximately the lower edge of the ice-sheet, the region W. of this stream is almost free from glacial deposits and presents a strong contrast to the rest of the state. The billowy plains still remain in places, but in the vicinity of streams the billows give way to deep ravines. The sands and clays found here are fine and soft, and as there is scant vegetation to protect the hillsides they are easily eroded by the rains. As a result, the surface has been carved into fantastic forms. The early French explorers called the region les terres mauvaises, on account of the difficulties that here met the traveller, and in its English equivalent, " the Bad Lands," this appellation still remains. High winds and seams of burning lignite coal have aided the rains in giving the Bad Lands their peculiar configuration. Prairie fires or spontaneous combustion have ignited many coal seams. Some have already burnt out; others still emit smoke and sulphurous fumes from the crevices in the hillsides, and through the fissures may be seen the glowing coal and rock. The earth surface above these natural furnaces has been hardened, cracked and sometimes melted into a reddish slag, called scoria, which, on account of its resemblance to lava, has given rise to an incorrect impression that the region was once the centre of volcanic disturbances. The picturesque effect of this sculpturing by water, wind and fire is greatly enhanced by the brilliant colours along the faces of the hills and ravines - grey, yellow, black and every shade of red and brown. Here too are found petrified forests and other evidences of a vegetable growth that has long ago disappeared. The lands are bad for the traveller and the farmer, but not for the ranchman. A few miles from the streams the country is less broken, and there are deep grassy valleys, in which the animals may find shelter in winter. Cattle sometimes congregate in cold weather around a burning coal seam and enjoy the warmth. The lignite in this region also warms the ranchman's cabin, being easily mined where a seam is exposed in the walls of a ravine or on the side of a hill.

North Dakota has a mean elevation of 1900 ft. The highest point in the state, about 3500 ft., is in the southern part of Bowman county, east of the Little Missouri river.


There are three drainage systems within the state: the Red river (of the North) and its tributaries, the Mouse, or Souris, river and its tributaries. and the Missouri river and its tributaries. The Red river flows in a winding channel along the eastern boundary and empties into Lake Winnipeg in Canada, thence reaching Hudson Bay through the Nelson river. Its tributaries are small, and are remarkable chiefly for the fact that they at first flow in a direction almost opposite to that of the main stream, and make a great bend to the N.E. before joining it.' The Sheyenne, the Goose, the Park and the Pembina rivers are the most important of these streams. The Mouse, or Souris, river rises in Canada, crosses the international boundary near the meridian of 102° W. long., flows S.E. for about 70 m., then turns to the N. and near the Joist meridian re-enters British territory, after receiving the waters of the Riviere des Lacs and other small streams. The Missouri river, the most important stream within the state, crosses the western boundary near the 48th parallel, and after pursuing a winding course in a general south-easterly direction, leaves the state near the centre of its southern boundary. The James river, flowing southward into South Dakota, is the Missouri's only important eastern tributary within the state. From the W. the Missouri receives the waters of the Little Missouri, Cannon Ball, Heart and Knife rivers. All that portion of the state lying W. of the Pembina Mountains and E. of the Mouse river valley is practically without river drainage, and for its surface and sub-surface drainage, Devils Lake, an irregular body of water about 40 m. in length and with an area of 400 sq. m., forms a natural reservoir. The waters of this lake are strongly saline. The entire region W. of the Red river valley and E. of the valleys of the Mouse and Missouri rivers is dotted with small lakes. The morainic belts and other obstructions in the drift plains hem in the waters in the intervening basins and create what are called " glacial lakes," var y ing in diameter from a few yards to several miles. All the lakes of the state are of this character, and many are strong with salt and alkali. The drift plains also contain numerous shallow hollows, locally termed " pots and kettles," which receive the drainage of their vicinity and form sloughs.

Fauna and Flora. - Before the advent of the white man, herds of bison roamed the prairies, but these have disappeared,' and, with the exception of deer and bears, large game is to be found only in the Bad Lands. Here are found the lynx, the " mountain lion " or puma, the prairie and timber wolves, the jack rabbit, the prairie dog (gopher), the black, the brown and, occasionally, the grizzly bear. A few fur-bearing animals, the mink, beaver and raccoon, still remain. The prairie dog is found everywhere. Among the lakes, sloughs and stubble-fields of the prairies, teal, ducks, coots and geese are found in abundance. Other prairie birds are the prairie chicken, and there are a great many birds that sing while flying; among them are the horned lark, bobolink, Smith's longspur and chestnut collared longspur, lark-sparrow, lark-bunting and Sprague's pipit.

The flora of North Dakota is typical of a semi-arid country. The prevailing plant-colour is a greyish green, due to a hard dry outer covering which serves as a protection from desiccation. All plant life has a remarkably large proportion of subterranean growth, because of the necessity of getting moisture from the earth and not from the air; hence roots and tubers are unusually well developed. The Red river valley is a meeting ground for many species of plants whose principal habitat lies in some other quarter. Many trees of the eastern forest, such as basswood, sugar, river and red maple, red, white and black ash, red and rock elm, black and bur oak, white and red pine and red cedar find their western limit here. Some species characteristic of the more northerly regions - for example, the mountain ash, balsam fir, tamarack and black and white spruce - find here their southern or south-western limits. The same is true of shrubs and herbaceous plants. The prickly ash, Virginian creeper and staff-tree find here their northern limit; and the mountain maple, Canada blueberry, dwarf birch and ground hemlock their southern limit. Of 1500 species of herbaceous plants in the Red river basin, it is estimated that fully half reach here their geographical limit or limit of frequent occurrence. Trees are found ' The peculiar bow shape of these western tributaries of the Red river is due to the fact that these streams originally flowed S.E. into Lake Agassiz, now extinct. As the waters of the lake gradually receded, the rivers reached it by pushing their channels eastward through what was once its bed. The southern part of the lake bottom was finally uplifted by a movement of the earth crust, and the outlet was changed from the S. to the N.E. The waters continued to recede, and the tributaries, in cutting their way through the sediment, followed the slope of the land and gradually turned northward.

2 The early settlers found the bones of the bison scattered over the prairies, and after the construction of railways the gathering and shipping of these for use in sugar refining and in the manufacture of superphosphate became temporarily a profitable industry. Between January and August 1889 a single dealer at Minot shipped 1200 tons, which sold at $8 the ton.

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only on Turtle Mountains, in the vicinity of streams, and in a few other places sheltered from wind and sun. North Dakota's total woodland area is estimated at 600 sq. m., or less than I % of its entire surface. No other state in the Union has such a relatively small area of forest. By an executive proclamation, which came into effect on the 24th of November 1908, a Federal forest reservation of 21.8 sq. m. was created. The prairies of the more humid regions are covered with valuable grasses, and with masses of showy native flowers, which bloom from spring to autumn. The pasque flower is found on all the prairies and is the earliest to appear. The Bad Lands exhibit a vegetation typical of semi-arid regions. Cottonwoods flourish along the Little Missouri river, and in sheltered ravines grow stunted junipers and cedars, which seldom rise above the crest of some protecting bluff. Poplars grow in the valleys, and the cactus and sage brush are common. The faces of buttes and ravines that are turned toward the sun are usually devoid of vegetation.


There are no mountains, forests or large bodies of water to moderate the extremes of summer and winter, and the uniformity of topography makes the ranges of temperature for different parts of the state very nearly the same. Between the extreme northern and southern sections there is a range of only 6° F. The mean annual temperature for the state is 39° F., with an extreme of I to° recorded for the summer and a minimum of - 54° for the winter. As a general rule, temperatures are highest in the W. and lowest in the E. In the central region of the state (at Jamestown, Stutsman county) the mean annual temperature is 40 0; the mean for the winter, 10°, with a minimum of - 40° recorded in February; the mean for the summer is 67°, with an extreme of 103° recorded in July. The winters are long and severe. The season, however, on account of the dryness of the climate, is not so harsh as the low temperatures would seem to indicate. The seasons are sharply demarked; both winter and summer come suddenly. The summers are short, but as there are sixteen hours of sunlight per day in midsummer, vegetation grows rapidly. Killing frosts often occur in June and return again early in September. High winds are frequent, and prairie houses are often protected by rows of trees called " wind breaks." During the growing season the winds are usually light, but in the late summer and autumn occasional dry, hot, southerly winds (" hot southers ") prove very destructive to vegetation. Tornadoes are not unknown, and local hail storms are frequent in the summer, but do little damage. The total precipitation for the state is 17 or 18 in., the heaviest, about 20 in., occurring in the Red river valley, and the lightest, about 14 in., in the extreme W. While the rainfall is always below the normal amount for humid regions, by far the greater part of it occurs in the spring and summer, and growing crops receive the full benefit. The precipitation rarely amounts to 2 in. for the entire winter. The snows are therefore very light, and are quickly swept from the prairies by the high winds, so that cattle may graze in the open plains throughout the year. There are, however, during every winter from one to four severe blizzards, which inflict great damage upon unprotected flocks and herds.


As the Red river valley is the bed of the extinct Lake Agassiz, its soil is composed of the fine detritus and silty deposits carried into the lake by its tributaries. Over the whole basin this deposit, to a depth of I or 2 ft., is coloured black by decayed vegetation, and constitutes one of the most fertile tracts on the continent. Being remarkably free from trees, rocks and streams, the soil can be turned in furrows that run perfectly straight for miles, and favours the development of " bonanza farms," where thousands of acres are cultivated in a single field. The soils W. of the valley consist of glacial drift, and are well suited to the growing of grain. The drift becomes thinner toward the W., and finally disappears in the semi-arid regions of the Missouri river valley. In this region the soils of sand and clay are much finer than the drift, and are very productive where the water-supply is sufficient.


Irrigation is confined to the western half of the state, and more especially to the north-west, being employed chiefly in the drainage basin of the Missouri river. The bed of the river is too far below the surrounding country to permit the use of its waters for irrigation purposes by the usual gravity methods. The ordinary process before 1906 was to dam small streams and " coulees "(deep gulches in which water flows intermittently) and flood the surrounding country. The total irrigated area in 1902 was 10,384 acres. The so-called Reclamation Act passed by Congress in 1902 provided for the construction of a system of irrigation works in this and other states by the Federal government. In 1908 the Federal Reclamation Service had five projects in North Dakota. The Buford-Trenton, Williston and Nesson projects are situated in Williams county, on the left bank of the Missouri river. The abundant lignite coal in the region was to operate pumps for raising water from the river into canals crossing the valley. The Washburn project was to irrigate 5000 acres in McLean county with water pumped from the Missouri river. It was estimated that the fourth project, the lower Yellowstone, on the western bank of the river of that name, would furnish water for 66,000 acres of land, of which 20,000 lie in Dawson county, North Dakota, and the rest in Montana. The fifth project, the Bowman, was to irrigate 10,000 acres in North Dakota and the northwestern part of South Dakota by storing the waters of the North Fork of Grand river. Water for irrigation purposes is often derived from artesian wells, which are very numerous in the S. and E., particularly in the James river valley.


Agriculture is by far the most important industry of the state, and, owing to climatic conditions, it is rigidly limited to a few staple crops. The growing season is too short for maize or Indian corn, which constituted only I. 2% of the acreage of cereals in 1905. No winter wheat can be grown, and the climate is too harsh for the larger fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums and grapes; but such hardy small fruits as currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries may be grown in abundance.

The total farm acreage in 1890 was 7,660,333; in 1900, 15,542,640. The value of the farm property in the same decade rose from $ 100 ,745,779 to $255,266,751, and the value of farm products from 1889 to 1899 from $21,264,938 to $64,252,494.

The average size of the farms (excluding farms under 3 acres with products valued at less than $500) was 277.4 acres in 1890 and 343.8 acres in 1900. With regard to tenure, 74.7% of the farms were operated by their owners, 15.2% by part owners and 7.2% by share tenants. Hay and grain formed the principal source of income of 88.4% of the farms, live-stock of 6.7% and dairy produce of 2.6%. Wheat is the state's most important product. In the acreage of this cereal in 1909 (according to the Year-book of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), North Dakota ranked first, and in the crop second among the states of the Union, its total yield being 90,762,000 bushels, valued at $83,501,000. Next in importance to wheat in 1909 was flaxseed, amounting to 14,229,000 bushels, valued at $22,340,000. In the production of this commodity the state ranked first, and produced about 55% of the entire crop of the United States. The flax is cultivated for the seed, and only slightly for the fibre. Other important crops are oats ($16,368,000 in 1906) barley ($8,913,000), hay, potatoes, rye and Indian corn. The value of the various classes of live-stock on the 1st of January 1910 was as follows: horses, $81,168,000; mules, $I,040,000; cattle, $21,001,000; sheep, $2,484,000; swine, $2,266,000. Very little attention is paid to fruit and vegetable growing.


With the exception of lignite, which underlies a large portion of the western half of the state, North Dakota has few mineral deposits of commercial value. Sandstone occurs in large quantities, and W. of the Red river valley granite and gneiss are found, but these materials are not quarried. The coal is all in the form of brown lignite and is not very valuable as a fuel, as it soon crumbles into a fine powder on being exposed to air. The total area of the coal beds is estimated at 35,000 sq. m. A law enacted in 1896 required the use of lignite in all state buildings and institutions. Mining is carried on along the Northern Pacific railway W. of the Missouri river, in the Mouse river valley along the line of the Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie railway, and at a few places in the same region along the line of the Great Northern railway. Good clays for the manufacture of tile and brick are found at numerous places. The total value of the mineral products (except stone) in 1909 was $738,818, of which $522,116 was the value of coal and $206,222 of clay products.


Manufacturing in North Dakota is of small importance, being largely confined, with the exception of flour and grist milling, to the supply of local needs. Under the factory system there were 337 establishments in 1900 and 507 in 1905: the capital invested in 1900 was $3,511,968 and in 1905 $5,703,837; and the value of products was $6,259,840 in 1900 and $10,217,914 (or 63.2% more) in 1905. The products of the flour and grist mills increased in value from $4,134,023 in 1900 to $6,463,228 in 1905, and in this last year constituted in value 63.3% of the total factory products of the state. Printing and publishing was next in importance, with products valued at $719,950 in 1900 and at $1,110,439 in 1905. Butter, cheese and condensed milk manufactured were valued at $122,128 in 1900 and at $562,481 in 1905. The chief manufacturing centres are Fargo and Grand Forks.


The total railway mileage within the state on the 31st of December 1908 was 4135.67 m. The main line of the Northern Pacific, from St Paul to Portland, Oregon, enters the state at Fargo and runs almost due W. throughout its length for about 380 m. Parallel with this road, but farther to the N., is the main line of the Great Northern system, running from St Paul to Seattle. The length of its route within the state, from Wahpeton to Buford via Larimore, is about 460 m. Both of these systems have numerous branch lines. The main line of the Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie enters the S.E. corner of the state at Fairmount and ends in the N.W. at Portal, on the international boundary, having in 1909 a length within the state of 361 m. Among its many branches are the " Wheat Line," running from Kenmare, North Dakota, to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and having a length of 251 m. in the state; and the " Missouri River Line," penetrating the southern and central portions of the state from Hankinson to Garrison, with a length of 282 m. In 1909 the Northern Pacific was building about 140 m. of new track. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railway, running E. and W. through South Dakota, sends four short branches intb the southern part of North Dakota. The Chicago & NorthWestern also sends a short branch line northward into the state, forming a junction with other lines at Oakes. The Red river is navigable as far S. as Belmont, and the Missouri river is navigable throughout its course within the state, although it requires a skilful pilot.


In 1870 the population of that portion of Dakota Territory included within the present limits of North Dakota was 2405; in 2880, 36,909. The population of the state in 1890 was 182,719; in 1900, 319,146; in 1905, 437,070; in 1910, 583,888. The number of the foreign-born population in 'goo was 113,091, or 35.4%, the highest proportion to be found in any state of the Union. The principal elements composing the white foreign population were as follows: Norwegians 30,206, English Canadians 25,004, Russians 14,979, Germans 22,546, Swedes 8419. The coloured population consisted of 4692 Indians not taxed, 2276 Indians taxed, 286 negroes, 148 Japanese and 32 Chinese. Most of the Indians not taxed live on reservations, of which there are four: Devils Lake Reservation in 1909 had a total area of 243.97 sq. m., a population of 980, consisting of Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Cut Head (or Pabaksa) Sioux; Turtle Mountain' Reservation, in Rolette county, established in 1882, and now allotted (excepting 286 acres for church and school purposes), had a population in 1909 of 2588, being for the most part a mixture of Pembina (or Turtle Mountain) Chippewa with French Canadians; Fort Berthold Reservation in the west central part of the state, on the Missouri river, established in 1870, had in 1909 an area of 2382.4 sq. m., and a population of 399 Arikara (Caddoan), and, of Siouan stock, 453 Hidatsa (or Grosventre) and 252 Mandan Indians; and Standing Rock Reservation, on the western bank of the Missouri river, was established in 1875, and in 1909 contained 28872 sq. m. (about three-fifths of which lies in South Dakota and much of which was opened to settlement in 1908-1909) and a population of 3399 Sioux. The population of the state is largely rural. The larger municipalities with the population of each in 1905 were: Fargo (12,512), Grand Forks (10,127), Jamestown (5093), Bismarck, the capital, (4913), Minot (4125), Valley City (4059), Dickinson (3188), Wahpeton (2742), Mandan (2714), Grafton (2423) and Devils Lake (2367); in 1905 there were fifteen other municipalities each with a population of more than 1000. In 1906 the Roman Catholic Church had the largest number of communicants (61,261 out of a total of 259,053 members of all denominations), and there were 59,923 Lutherans.


The state is governed under its constitution of 1889, as subsequently amended. The governor is chosen biennially, and has a limited pardoning power. He may veto appropriation bills by items, but any of his vetoes may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of each house. The governor and lieutenant-governor must be at least thirty years old. The other administrative officers are a secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of insurance, three commissioners of railways, attorney general and commissioner of agriculture and labour; each of these officers is chosen biennially and must be at least twenty-five years of age. The legislative department consists of a Senate, with members chosen every four years, and about half chosen at each biennial election; and a House of Representatives, with members chosen biennially. The sessions of the legislature are biennial, and are limited to sixty days. The minimum age for senators is twenty-five years and for representatives twenty-one years. Bills may originate in either house. A lieutenant-governor, chosen biennially, presides over the Senate. In 1907 the legislature proposed an amendment providing for the application of initiative and referendum to statutory laws and constitutional amendments; two years later the legislature passed a substitute resolution, which omits the clause regarding amendments of the constitution, and which, if passed by the legislature of 2922 will be put to popular vote at the general election of 1912. The judicial department consists of the supreme court, district courts, county courts, municipal courts, and justices of the peace. The supreme court consists of three judges (minimum age thirty years), chosen by popular vote for six years. Their number may be increased to five whenever the population of the state shall amount to 600,000.

The Devils Lake Reservation and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa are both under the Fort Totten School, which is on the Devils Lake Reservation.

For each judicial district (the tenth district was created in 2907) there is one district judge, elected for four years; the district courts have original jurisdiction (except in probate matters) and certain appellate jurisdiction. The judge of the county court is chosen for two years. This court has exclusive original jurisdiction in probate matters, and in counties with over 2000 inhabitants its jurisdiction may be extended by popular vote to include concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts in civil matters involving amounts less than $2000, and in criminal actions below the grade of felony. Justices of the peace have jurisdiction in civil cases involving no land titles and sums of money not exceeding $200. They may also try misdemeanours in counties without other criminal jurisdiction.

For the administration of local government, the state is divided into counties (46 in 2920). In those counties that have not adopted a township organization county affairs are administered by a board of county commissioners; where the township organization has been adopted the county government is administered by the chairmen of the several township boards. For each county there are a judge, clerk, register of deeds, auditor, treasurer, sheriff and state's attorney.

All citizens of the United States residing in North Dakota are declared to be citizens of the state. The right of suffrage is confined by the constitution to males twenty-one years of age, who are citizens of the United States or have declared their intention of becoming citizens, and who have resided in the state one year, in the county six months, and in the voting precinct ninety days preceding the election. Civilized Indians who have severed their tribal relations two years before an election are entitled to vote. Women may vote for all school officers and upon all questions relating solely to school matters, and are eligible to any school office.

Amendments to the constitution must be passed by both houses of the legislature at two consecutive sessions, and must then be ratified by popular vote. By this arrangement a period of nearly four years usually elapses between the proposal and the final ratification of an amendment.

The amount of homestead exempt from seizure for debt is limited in value to $5000, and may not include more than two acres in a town plot or more than 260 acres elsewhere. The exemption is not valid against a debt created for the purchase money, or against taxes levied on the property, or against mechanics' or labourers' liens for work done or material furnished for improvements, or against a mortgage acknowledged by both husband and wife. The grounds for absolute divorce are adultery, cruelty, desertion (one year), neglect (one year), habitual drunkenness (one year) and conviction for felony; residence in the state for one year is required before application for divorce.

North Dakota is one of the few American states whose constitution forbids the manufacture, importation 2 or sale of intoxicating liquors. Attempts to secure the repeal of this provision have been unsuccessful. Apothecaries may secure a licence to sell liquors for purely medicinal purposes upon a petition signed by twentyfive reputable free-holders and twenty-five reputable women. In 1909 the advertisement of liquors, solicitation of orders for liquors, and the sale of cigarettes to minors were prohibited.


At the head of the public school system is a superintendent of public instruction, chosen for two years. He, with the governor and the president of the state university, constitutes a high-school board, having supervision of the secondary schools. In each county there is a county superintendent, elected biennially, and in each school district a board of directors. The proceeds of the sale of public lands donated to the state for educational purposes, and all escheats to the state, constitute a trust fund, the interest from which, with the proceeds of all fines for the violation of state laws, is annually apportioned among the school districts according to the school population; the total apportionment from the State Tuition Fund in 1908 was $357,238. This income is supplemented by local taxation. The minimum school term allowed by law is six Before the law passed by the first Legislative Assembly of the state to carry out this provision could come into effect, it was partially annulled by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Leisy v. Hardin (2890), in which the court held that liquor might be imported into any state and sold in the original package without reference to local prohibitory or restrictive laws.

months, and the schools are open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years. For children between the ages of eight and fourteen attendance for twelve weeks, six being consecutive, is compulsory. The total enrolment in the public schools in 1908 was 131,582, with an average daily attendance of 90,419. Educational facilities are also furnished by the state through university and school of mines at University, near Grand Forks, normal schools (opened in 1890) at Valley City and Mayville, an agricultural college and experiment station (1890) at Fargo, a normal and industrial school (opened in 1899) at Ellendale, a school for the deaf (1890) at Devils Lake, a scientific school (opened in 1903) at Wahpeton, and a school of forestry at Bottineau. Fargo College at Fargo, founded in 1887 by Congregationalists, is now non-sectarian. The Methodist Episcopal Church maintains Wesley College near Grand Forks (formerly the Red River Valley University at Wahpeton), affiliated with the state university. There is a state library commission. The state supports a hospital for the insane at Jamestown, an institution for the feeble-minded at Grafton, a home for old soldiers at Lisbon, a blind asylum at Bathgate, a reform school (opened 1902) at Mandan and a penitentiary at Bismarck. There is a state sanatorium for tuberculosis (1909).


The chief source of revenue for the state, counties and municipalities is the general property tax. There are no special corporation taxes, but licence-charges are levied upon express and sleeping-car companies, and a tax is laid on the premiums of insurance companies. No poll tax is levied for state purposes, but counties are authorized to levy such a tax for school purposes. There are boards of equalization and review for the state, counties and municipalities. The state board fixes the rate of the state tax. For defraying the expenses of the state government, exclusive of the interest on the bonded debt, the tax rate is limited by the constitution to four mills on the dollar of assessed valuation. The state debt, excluding the amount of Territorial indebtedness assumed when Dakota Territory was divided, may not exceed $200,000. Local indebtedness is limited to 5% of the assessed value of the local property, but incorporated cities may by special vote increase this limit. The total bonded debt of the state on the 31st of October 1908 was $642,300, and was incurred for the most part for the construction of public buildings during the Territorial period. At the close of the fiscal year ending on the 31st of October 1908, the receipts for the year amounted to $3,259,668, the expenditures to $3,47 6, 0 73 and the balance in the treasury to $582,905.


The first attempts to establish permanent settlements in what is now North Dakota were made by traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, who began their operations in the Red river valley about 1793.1 In 1797 C. J. B. Chaboillez, a French trader in the service of the North-West Fur Company, built a trading post on the southern bank of the Pembina river, near its mouth, but this was soon abandoned. Three years later Alexander Henry, the younger (d. 1814), built two trading posts in the present limits of the state for this company, one on the western bank of the Red river near the Park river, where he lived until 1808. David Thompson (1770-1857), an employee at different times of the Hudson's Bay and North-West Fur companies, explored the region of the Missouri river in 1797-1798, and thus anticipated the work of Lewis and Clark, who entered the present limits of the state in 1804 and wintered among the Mandans,constructingFortMandan in what is nowMcLean county. In 1801 John Cameron (d. 1804) erected a trading post for the North-West Fur Company on the site of the present Grand Forks.

The firstreal homeseekers to enter the state of whom there is any record were a colony of Scottish Highlanders who had first settled at Kildonan (Winnipeg) in 1812 under a grant from the Hudson's Bay Company to Thomas Douglas, 5th earl of Selkirk. A part of the Winnipeg colony soon migrated southward and settled on the site of the present city of Pembina, at the mouth of the Pembina river, which they thought to be in British territory, and named the settlement Fort Daer. When Major Stephen H. Long, commanding an exploring expedition to the Minnesota and Red rivers, reached Fort Daer in 1823, he found there about six hundred persons, a few being Scotch, but the greater part being half-breeds.

North Dakota formed part of the region ceded by France to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. From 1803 to 1805 it was included in the District of Louisiana, and from 1805 to 1812 it was a part of the Louisiana Territory, the name of which was changed to Missouri Territory in 1812. In 1834 1 There seems to be no good authority for the statement often made that the first settlement in North Dakota was made by French Canadians in 1780.

that part of the present state E. of the Missouri river was included in the newly organized Territory of Michigan, and became successively a part of Wisconsin Territory in 1836, of Iowa Territory in 1838, and of Minnesota Territory in 1849. In 1854 the Territory of Nebraska was organized from a portion of the Missouri Territory, and the part of the Dakotas W. of the Missouri, then locally called " Mandan Territory," was included in its limits. After Minnesota entered the Union, in 1858, the country between the Red and the Missouri rivers had no Territorial government for three years, but the inhabitants formed a provisional government. On the 2nd of March 1861 the Territory of Dakota was created, including the present Dakotas and portions of Wyoming and Montana. The seat of the Territorial government was fixed at Yankton, and remained there until 1883, when it was removed to Bismarck. The name of the Territory was derived from the Dakota Indians; the word " Dah-ko-ta " (signifying " allied " or " confederated "), being originally applied to the Sioux Confederation. In 1863 when Idaho Territory was formed, the boundaries of the Dakotas were fixed at practically their present limits. The boundary between Dakota Territory and Nebraska was slightly altered in 1870 and 1882. The Territory had hardly been organized before its settlement was impeded by the Civil War without and by Indian troubles within. In 1862 the Indians began a series of bloody massacres along the frontiers of Minnesota and Dakota. In the following year General Alfred Sully (1821-1879), commanding United States troops, marched up the Missouri river as far as Bismarck, and thence to the valley of the James river. On the 3rd of September 1863 with 1200 men he routed 2000 Sioux near the present town of Ellendale, in Dickey county, in an engagement called the battle of White Stone Hills. Four hundred warriors were slain, and a great number were captured. In 1864 Sully defeated the Sioux at the battle of Takaakwta, or Deer Woods, on the Knife river, and a few days later he again encountered them, and after a desperate struggle of three days administered a crushing defeat; the warriors abandoned their provisions and escaped into the Bad Lands. The Indians still remained hostile, however, and in 1865 Sully found it necessary to conduct his troops N. as far as Devils Lake, and thence W. to the Cannon Ball river. By these operations the Indian frontier was fixed W. of the Missouri river, and forts and garrisons were placed along this stream. The worst of the Indian troubles in northern Dakota were then at an end, though for many years there were occasional outbreaks.

A period of rapid development in the Red river basin followed the entrance of the Northern Pacific railway into this region in 187 2. At the election in November 1887 the question of the division of the Territory into two states at the " seventh standard parallel " was submitted to the people, and was carried at the polls. In accordance with the Enabling Act, which received the president's approval on the 22nd of February 1889, a constitutional convention met at Bismarck on the 4th of July following, and drafted a frame of government for the state of North Dakota. In October this was ratified at the polls. The chief interest in the election turned on the prohibition clause in the constitution, which was submitted separately, and received a majority of only 1159 votes. On the 2nd of November 1889 President Harrison issued a proclamation declaring North Dakota a state. By an agreement between North and South Dakota, embodied in their constitutions, each state assumed the debt created for the erection of public buildings within its limits during the Territorial period.

In the development of the state since its admission into the Union the railways have been an important factor. In 1894 they inaugurated the so-called " concentration movement," and began to conduct annual excursions into North Dakota, thus bringing into the state thousands of immigrants. They have also adopted the policy of selecting favourable town-sites on the uninhabited prairie, erecting grain elevators at such points, and furnishing transportation facilities by means of branch roads tapping the main lines of travel. Under this system prosperous towns and villages have sprung up among the prairies.

William Jayne Terr torial Governors.'



Newton Edmunds .


Andrew J. Faulk. .


John A. Burbank. .


John L. Pennington


William A. Howard' .


Nehemiah G. Ordway. .


Gilbert A. Pierce. .


Louis K. Church. .


Arthur C. Melette .


State Governors.

John Miller.. Republican


Andrew B. Burke „


Eli C. D. Shortridge. Democratic


Roger Allin Republican


Frank A. Briggs .


Joseph M. Devine 4


Frederick B. Fancher


Frank White


Elmore Y. Sarles. „


John Burke. .. .. Democratic


In politics the state has been Republican, except in 1892, when the Democrats and Populists combined; in 1906, 1908 and 1910 Bibliography. - Description: The State of North Dakota: The Statistical, Historical and Political Abstract (Aberdeen, S.D., 1889), prepared by Frank H. Hagerty, Commissioner of Immigration; North Dakota: A Few Facts concerning its Resources and Advantages (Bismarck, 1892), prepared by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labour; Glimpses of North Dakota (Buffalo, 1901), published by the North Dakota Pan-American Exposition Company; The Story of the Prairies; or, The Landscape Geology of North Dakota (Chicago, 1902), by D. E. Willard; Explorations in the Dakota Country in the Year 1855 (Senate Ex. Doc. No. 76, 34 Cong., I Sess., Washington, 1856) by G. K. Warren; Report on the Geology and Resources of the Region in the Vicinity of the Forty-Ninth Parallel (Montreal, 1875), by George M. Dawson; United States Geological Survey of the Territories. Annual Report for 1872, containing The Physical Geography and Agricultural Resources of Minnesota, Dakota and Nebraska (Washington, 1873), by Cyrus Thomas; publications by the U.S. Geological Survey (consult the bibliographies in Bulletins, Nos. 100, 177 and 301).

Fauna and Flora: United States Geological Survey of the Territories: Miscellaneous Publications,No.3, Birds of the North-west (Washington, 1874), by Elliot Coues; publications by the United States Geological Survey (consult the bibliographies in Bulletins, Nos. loo, 177, 301); and Wallace Craig, " North Dakota Life: Plant, Animal and Human," in Nos. 6 and 7 (June and July) of vol. xl. (1908) of the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society (New York).

History: " Historical Sketch of North and South Dakota," in South Dakota State Historical Society Collections (1902), i. 23-162, by W. M. Blackburn; Illustrated Album of Biography of the Famous Valley of the Red River of the North and the Park Regions, including the most Fertile and Widely Known Portions of Minnesota and North Dakota (Chicago, 1889) New Light on the Earlier History of the Greater North-west. The Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry and David Thompson, 1799-1814, edited by Elliot Coues (3 vols., New York, 1897).

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