November 10, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Dakota: The Story of the Northern Plains

Dakota: The Story of the Northern Plains

Norman K. Risjord

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0803269293

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The northern plains are often ignored by the rest of the nation or, if not, are mentioned in the context of the weather, Mount Rushmore, or the Black Hills. However, North Dakota and South Dakota have a colorful past—and present—deserving of greater recognition.

Norman K. Risjord relates the remarkable histories of these two states, from the geological formation of the Great Plains to economic changes in the twenty-first century. Risjord takes the reader on a journey through the centuries detailing the first human inhabitants of the northern plains, the Lewis and Clark expedition, homesteading and railroad building, the political influence of the Progressive movement, the building of Mount Rushmore, and Wounded Knee II. Included are stories of such noteworthy characters as French explorer Vérendrye, the Lakota leader Red Cloud, North Dakota political boss Alexander McKenzie, and South Dakota Democrat George S. McGovern.

Despite the shared topography and the rivers that course through both states, the diverse reactions of the two states to the challenges of the twentieth century provide opportunities for arresting comparisons. This captivating look at the Dakotas’ geography, ecology, politics, and culture is essential reading for Dakotans and those interested in the rich history of this important region.

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the Assiniboines, and he was reduced thereafter to making himself understood by signs and gestures. He did learn by this means that there were five more Mandan villages on the river a day’s journey away, and each was twice the size of the current outpost. The Indians also told him that a day’s journey beyond the last of the Mandan villages were the towns of two tribes (evidently Hidatsa and Arikara) with whom the Mandans were at war. Lacking an interpreter, the French were certain to receive a

tribes. When the Horse People failed to make an appearance by mid-July, Louis-Joseph decided to move on with a pair of Mandan guides. For twenty days they traveled west-southwest, passing through the North Dakota Badlands. “In several places,” wrote the chevalier, “I noticed earths of different colors, such as blue, a kind of vermillion, grass green, glossy black, chalk white, and others the color of ochre. Had I foreseen at the time that I should not go through these regions again, I would have

along the Northern Pacific rightof-way from Fargo to Bismarck. The only contact among the three was by stagecoach. It took two and a half days, traveling day and night, to get from Bismarck to Rapid City on the edge of the Hills. The trip from Yankton to the Hills took nearly a week. The sections had different economic bases and different political outlooks. The southeast was solidly Republican, reflecting its dependence on government offices that had been filled by successive Republican

Farmers’ Alliance and the liberal state constitution that it drafted paved the way for the Nonpartisan League, which would dominate North Dakota politics for the first quarter of the twentieth century. prairie farms and statehood 153 chapter seven The Road to Wounded Knee U ntil the middle of the nineteenth century the U.S. government believed it had “solved” the Indian “problem” by removing the eastern tribes west of the Middle Border (i.e., to Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma).

1898, the voters returned solid Republican majorities to the legislature. The return of prosperity and the outbreak of war with Spain that year ended public concern with the issues raised by the People’s Party. The Republicans swept the state in the election of 1900. North Dakota’s brief flirtation with Populism ended with the legislative session of 1893. The state returned to Republican control in 1894 and voted for McKinley over Bryan in 1896. It was about this time — some contemporary writers

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