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North Dakota History Facts

North Dakota is a state in the midwestern region of the United States.

It is the 19th largest state but has relatively few people living there.

North Dakota State Seal

It is the fourth most sparsely populated state in the United States.

The capital of North Dakota is Bismarck and the biggest city is called Fargo.

Related: North Dakota State Facts

Nd Bismarck Mc Kenzie Patterson

First populations of North Dakota

The area we now call North Dakota has been inhabited for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

In the eleventh-century, a people called the Mandan lived in the area and were later joined by the first Hidatsa group.


In later centuries, the area was inhabited by the Lakota, the Santee and the Yanktonai.

Exploration and first settlements

A man called Pierre Gaultier was the first European to arrive in the area in 1738.

He was guided by the Assiniboine peoples and he had many traders and explorers with him.

Pierre Gaultier De Varennes Et De La Verendrye

The area was under French control and had originally called in La Louisiane in honour of the French King Louis XIV in 1682.

Spain got this territory, including North Dakota, secretly at the end of the Seven Years’ War in the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762).

Between 1762 and 1802, the area was part of Spanish Louisiana. Spanish Louisiana was a district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Gueridon Fontainebleau

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries, North Dakota saw huge waves of migrants come to the area.

Impressive railroads had been built and many people were now attracted to North Dakota as an ideal location to live and farm.

farmer in field

People came from Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Many of these people settled in the Red River Valley. Before the First World War began, North Dakota was one America’s richest farming regions.

However, farming conditions worsened, and the population of North Dakota declined after the 1930s.

Red River Basin


The region is still famous for agriculture (farming).

Around 90% of the land in Dakota is made up of farms – the third-largest amount of farmland in the United States.

These are no longer the small farms of the nineteenth-century, but rather large farms that specialise in one crop.

Neils Nielsen Fourteen Side Barn Farm

North Dakota is the largest producer of cereals in the United States.

Cereals like barley, wheat, and oats are grown there and sent out to other regions in the United States.

Western North Dakota

No tourists

Sadly, for North Dakota, it is seen as the least visited state. This might be because it has no major tourist attractions!

The scenery is very beautiful, however, and some tourists travel to go fishing and hunting in the beautiful national parks.

Thro Canyon

Quiz Time!

Where is North Dakota?

How long have people lived in North Dakota?

What were the first inhabitants of North Dakota called?


What was Spanish Louisiana?

Why don’t people visit North Dakota in large numbers?

US State History

Fargo North Dakota