Celebrate North Dakota’s Distinct Heritage this November
North Dakota has a rich and varied history. Dinosaurs roamed here more than 60 million years ago and the sedimentary rocks of western North Dakota’s Badlands continue to give up clues about their existence. Native Americans arrived in the region several thousand years ago and European settlers showed up in the 18th century. The influences of these people are evident across North Dakota today.
A great “first stop” for travelers eager for a taste of the state’s history is the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck. Spend an afternoon exploring the center’s vast galleries filled with life-sized dinosaur casts, exquisite Native American textiles and early farming tools of European homesteaders.
Head west to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to discover the beautifully remote landscape that America’s 26th president explored as a young man. The geological features and diversity of habitat, plants and animals have captivated visitors for centuries. Some historians credit this area as the inspiration for President Roosevelt’s prevailing conservation policies.
Visit Washburn’s Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to learn more about the adventures of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. The Corps of Discovery made its way through North Dakota twice between 1804 and 1806, and today you can trace their footsteps along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Tour one of North Dakota’s many forts to get a sense of the state’s military history. Fort Abraham Lincoln near Mandan is particularly interesting to history buffs: It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry left for the ill-fated battle at the Little Big Horn. In addition to its infantry and cavalry post, Fort Lincoln also is home to reconstructed earthlodges within On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village.
North Dakota is known for its Scandinavian culture. Check out Minot’s Scandinavian Heritage Park to see a beautiful replica of a wooden medieval Christian Stave church and a 25-foot-tall Swedish Dala Horse. West Fargo’s expansive Bonanzaville is open year-round for visitors to view historic buildings and artifacts highlighting the cultural heritage of North Dakota’s Red River Valley.