North Dakota

History of North Dakota

The U.S. State of North Dakota (ND) was admitted as the 39th state of the union on November 2nd, 1889.  Like much of North America, numerous indigenous civilizations lived in modern-day ND for thousands of years before Europeans first explored the area and made contact with more modern generations of Native American nations.  During the 17th century, tribes of the Crow, Lakota, Santee, and Plains Cree inhabited the region.  Contact with the first Europeans was not made until 1738 when the French-Canadian trader, Pierre Gaultier, sier de La Vérendrye, led an exploration and trading party into the region.

Although a Frenchman discovered the region, the Spanish were the first to claim it a part of Spanish Louisiana, which the region remained a part of until 1802.  During the years of the American Revolution, North Dakota remained a property of Spain.  The first Americans did not travel to the region until the early 1800’s with the introduction of the railroad.  The idea of “Homesteading” was still relatively new to Americans living in the east, but some were eager to take advantage of government-subsidized grants for land in the new western frontiers.  Some saw it worth the risk and made their way to the area of North Dakota, looking forward to the suitable agricultural conditions presented to them.

In the fall of 1889, President Benjamin Harrison admitted both North and South Dakota into the union, designating each of them as the 39th and 40th of the United States of America.


ND ranks as the 19th largest of the fifty states by area, the fourth-least populated, and the 4th most sparsely populated.  In 2017, the United States Census Bureau estimated the population of North Dakota to be 755,393.

Although active in several different industries, agriculture is the backbone of North Dakota’s economy.  The state ranks among the top ten in the nation in terms of crop value.  By producing grains such as barley, durum wheat, oats, and buckwheat, North Dakota has become one of the nation’s largest producers of cereal grains.  The state also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.  In addition to its multi-faceted economy, North Dakota has had a budget surplus every year since the 2008 recession.

ND also has a rather substantial oil production industry.  The state maintains its own oil and coal reserves while also exporting to neighboring states.  As of 2012, ND is among the top oil producers in the United States.  In addition, due to its geographical location in the Great Plains, ND is extremely suitable for the development of wind energy initiatives.  Recent success has been seen in this industry due to consistent wind speeds constantly spinning the blades of wind turbines.


ND currently has three representatives in the federal government.  A member of the Republican Party and a member of the Democratic Party represent the state in the U.S. Senate, and a member of the Republican Party in the United States House of Representatives represents their lone congressional district.  In addition, the current governor of North Dakota is also a member of the Republican Party.