HISTORY OF NORTH DAKOTA

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Prior to European contact, Native Americans inhabited North Dakota for thousands of years. The first European to reach the area was the French-Canadian trader La Vérendrye, who led an exploration party to Mandan villages in 1738. The trading arrangement between tribes was such that North Dakota tribes rarely dealt directly with Europeans. However, the native tribes were in sufficient contact that by the time that Lewis and Clark entered North Dakota in 1804, they were aware of the French and then Spanish claims to their territory.

Much of present-day North Dakota was included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Much of acquired land was organized into Minnesota and Nebraska Territories. Dakota Territory, making up present-day North and South Dakota, along with parts of present-day Wyoming and Montana, was organized on March 2, 1861. Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 1800s, when the railroads entered the region and aggressively marketed the land. A bill for statehood for North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington titled the Enabling Act of 1889 was passed on February 22, 1889 during the administration of Grover Cleveland. After Cleveland left office, it was left to his successor, Benjamin Harrison, to sign proclamations formally admitting North and South Dakota to the Union on November 2, 1889.[19] The rivalry between the two new states presented a dilemma of which was to be admitted first. Harrison directed Secretary of State James G. Blaine to shuffle the papers and obscure from him which he was signing first and the actual order went unrecorded. However, since North Dakota alphabetically appears before South Dakota, its proclamation was published first in the Statutes At Large. Since that day, it has become common to list the Dakotas alphabetically and thus North Dakota is usually listed as the 39th state. It is believed that nobody recorded which paper was signed first, thus nobody can actually know which of the Dakotas was admitted first.

The corruption in the early territorial and state governments led to a wave of populism led by the Non Partisan League (usually referred to as the "NPL"), which brought social reforms in the early 20th century. The NPL which was later incorporated as part of the Democratic Party, fashioned a number of laws and social reforms, in an attempt to insulate North Dakota from the power of out-of-state banks and corporations, a number of which are still in place today. In addition to the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Mill and Elevator (both still in existence) there was a state-owned railroad line (later sold to the Soo Line Railroad). Additionally, anti-corporate laws were passed, which virtually prohibited a corporation or bank from owning title to land zoned as farmland. These laws, which still exist today, and which have upheld by both the State and Federal court systems, make it almost impossible to foreclose on farmland, as even after foreclosure, the property title cannot be held by a bank or mortgage company. Thus, virtually every farm in existence today in North Dakota, is still a "family-owned" farm. As a result, CBS News has reported that the state with the highest per capita percentage of millionaires is North Dakota.

A round of federal construction projects began in the 1950s including the Garrison Dam, and the Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases. There was a boom in oil exploration in western North Dakota in the 1980s, as rising petroleum prices made development profitable.[24] The original North Dakota State Capitol burned to the ground on December 28, 1930, and was replaced by a limestone faced art deco skyscraper that still stands today.

Luciano Mende

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