Honoring Our Heritage

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Heritage is something taken quite seriously in North Dakota, and until our recent population boom, it was easy to assume anyone who lived here came from farming roots. North Dakotans are a tight-knit group, often truthfully answering yes when people say, “I know someone from North Dakota. Do you know him?”

But there is a lot more to North Dakota heritage than how it may typically get portrayed on “Fargo” or as “fly-over country.” With Scandinavian and German influences impacting our state from our reserved personalities to our favorite holiday treats, there are many unique and special things to know about North Dakota.    


While more and more people are a generation removed from “the farm,” 90 percent of North Dakota is still privately owned land, and 90 percent of that land is used for agriculture. North Dakota farmers feed the world, growing durum that is used to make pasta across the globe. North Dakota leads the nation with commodities like wheat, flax, canola, sunflowers, pulse crops, honey, and more.

And it’s not just the crops we’re known for either.

Cattle production is also a key component of North Dakota agricultural exports. We produce enough beef for close to 115 million hamburgers yearly.

Visitors can learn about farming practices at interpretive centers throughout the state.


Pheasants, ducks, geese, deer, you name it, North Dakota has it and we hunt it. We take hunting very seriously, in fact, some schools even close on “deer opener.”  

If you want help finding the hidden gems, we’ve got you covered. There are numerous lodges across the state that cater to outdoor enthusiasts year round.

Sit down and eat

Craving lefse? Do you even know what lefse is? This “potato tortilla” is a holiday staple in North Dakota and one of the many authentic Scandinavian foods you can find just about everywhere here! Remember to put butter and sugar on top to truly enjoy this treat. Let the food adventure continue with North Dakota staples like knoephla soup, bison burgers, pheasant pizza or rhubarb martinis.

Cowboy up

Yep, we’re talking trail riding, roping, rodeos and ranching. North Dakota cowboys are the real deal, and cowboy hats and boots are a necessity not a fashion statement. 

Take a step into the cowboy lifestyle by riding the trails this fall around Theodore Roosevelt National Park, working cattle at Black Leg Ranch or try the Sheyenne Oaks horse park on the eastern end of the state. If you want to be a little less hands-on, visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame for a glimpse at the men and women who have made North Dakota’s cowboy culture so strong.


While they may not be “professional,” North Dakota sports teams definitely have the attention of the state and the nation.

Catch a University of North Dakota hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.  With seven NCAA Division I National Championships under their belt, a home game has regular crowds of 12,000 people buzzing with excitement. Grab a grinder at the Red Pepper concession stands that have recently been added to the arena - the local food stop has been a staple in town since the 1960s.

The North Dakota State Bison football team is the reigning three-time Division I FCS national champs. Averaging more than 18,000 game attendees, the tailgating before the game gives fans the chance to mix and mingle. Bison fans set up their grills to tailgate in the parking lot and invite fans of the opposing team to stop and have a beer and a burger before the game. The Daily Meal named NDSU the #4 best college tailgate in the nation in 2014.

(Did you know famed NBA coach Phil Jackson also grew up in North Dakota?)


Whether it’s the wide open spaces or the peaceful solitude of winter, North Dakota has inspired many famous literary masters. Novelists like Louis L’Amour, who was considered one of the world’s most popular writers, are celebrated in the state. On the Louis L’Amour Trail you can step into the life and times of this great writer, who went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.

Or you can experience the life of Laurainne Snelling’s famous character Ingeborg Bjorklund and her family who settled in “Blessing, ND” on the banks of the Red River. The Blessing Museum in Drayton, ND is a nod to the book’s tales of North Dakota’s early settlement days.

There is more than meets the eye in North Dakota, and it is our heritage that has helped define many of these hidden gems. As we celebrate our heritage this month – marking out 125th birthday – we invite guests to join us and experience our legendary state.

For more information these or other pieces of North Dakota heritage, visit www.ndtourism.com