November 2, 1889 – North Dakota Joins the Union as the 39th State

On March 2,1861 the U.S. Congress created the Dakota Territory, which consisted of the present-day states of North and South Dakota, and most of Montana and Wyoming. In 1863 the size of the territory was reduced to the area of North and South Dakota. With the advent of the Northern Pacific Railroad, immigration and settlement increased; the climate was suitable for wheat, which was in high demand in American cities and in Europe. By the late 1870s Dakotans felt inadequately represented by territorial status and began pushing for statehood, either as one state or two.


On November 2, 1889, both North and South Dakota were admitted to the United States. Since President Benjamin Harrison did not want to show favoritism, he listed the order of their admissions alphabetically, with North Dakota the 39th state and South Dakota the 40th state.

Today, North Dakota is in the midst of an oil boom. The state sits on a rock unit known as the Bakken formation, which also covers parts of Montana and Saskatchewan. The new technology of “fracking” has enabled oil production to explode in the area, going from 3,000 barrels a day in 2005 to some 800,000 in 2013 (about 11% of the country’s total production). You can find out more facts about fracking here. It is now the second biggest oil-producing state, behind Texas. (Statistics as of September 2017 are here.)

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As a result, North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3%, and a growing side industry of “entertainment services” by women. CNN reported in 2011:

Forget Vegas. Strippers are discovering they can make ten times as much dancing in the oil boomtown of Williston, N.D.

Word has gotten out about just how much money can be made dancing in Williston’s strip clubs. The money is phenomenal, but the competition is stiff. Whispers [a strip club] has received applications from exotic dancers in Hawaii, Alaska, even the Czech Republic and Germany, said Melissa Slapnicka, the co-owner of the club. She’s been bombarded with so many applications that she only gives each dancer a week to try out. If they don’t work out, they don’t come back, she said.”

But wholesomeness still has a place in North Dakota; the state beverage is milk.


Rugby, North Dakota is close to the geographical center of the North American continent. (The actual center of the continent is some 6 miles west of nearby Balta, but it is apparently difficult to get there.)

According to the official site of the North Dakota state government, there are approximately 30,000 Native Americans living in North Dakota, who make up about 5% of the current North Dakota population. North Dakota American Indian tribes span the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, the Yanktonia, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Hunkpapa and other Dakotah/Lakotah (more commonly known as the Sioux) Tribes, along with the Pembina Chippewa, Cree and Metis. Almost sixty percent of these Native Americans live on reservations and over forty percent are under the age of 20.

Tribes are sovereign nations that function independently from the federal and state government. Each Tribe has its own constitution and set of distinct codified laws to govern conduct within their jurisdiction. You can find links to North Dakota tribal laws here.


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