North Dakota was one of the last places in the continental United States to be explored and settled. The first European explorers to visit the area were French. However, the native tribes were in sufficient contact with European traders that by the time of Lewis and Clark, they were at least somewhat aware of the French, then Spanish claims to their territory.
The state was settled sparsely until the late 1800s, when the railroads pushed through the state, and aggressively marketed the land. On 2 November1889, North Dakota was admitted to the Union with South Dakota (see Trivia below). By 1920 the state had about as many people as it has today.
North Dakota's judiciary is rather simple. Each of the 53 counties has a court, from which appeals are sent straight to the Supreme Court. Because of the expense of having each county hire a judge, and the fairly low workload, the state is divided into seven judicial districts which collectively elect judges to travel to the various courthouses and hear cases.
District Judges are elected to six-year terms. Supreme Court Judges are elected to ten-year terms. The Supreme Court Justice is selected every 5 years by vote of the District and Supreme Court Judges.
North Dakota is bordered on the north by the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, on the west by Montana, on the south by South Dakota, and on the east, across the Red River of the North, by Minnesota. The Missouri River flows through the western part of the state, forming Lake Sakakawea behind the Garrison Dam. It is mainly a farm state and most of its industries (food processing and farm equipment) are connected to farming. Farms and ranches stretch across the rolling plains from the Red River Valley in the east to the rugged Badlands in the west. The geographic centre of the North American continent is located near Rugby.
As of the 2000 census, the population of North Dakota is 642,200. Its population grew 0.5% (3,400) from its 1990 levels. According to the 2000 census,
92.4% (593,181) identified themselves as White,
1.2% (7,786) as Hispanic or Latino,
0.6% (3,916) as black,
0.6% (3,606) as Asian,
4.9% (31,329) as American Indian or Alaska Native,
0.04% (230) as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
0.4% (2,540) as other, and
1.2% (7,398) identified themselves as belonging to two or more races.
6.1% of its population were reported as under 5, 25% under 18, and 14.7% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.1% of the population.
Interestingly, Devils Lake tends to be considered more important than Wahpeton because of Devils Lake's geographic isolation. As for population trends, Fargo and Bismarck are growing fast, but the other cities in the state are staying put or declining in population.
A bill for statehood for North and South Dakota (and Montana, and Washington)
was passed on February 221889 during the Administration of Grover Cleveland.
It was left to his successor Benjamin Harrison to
sign proclamations formally admitting North and South
Dakota to the Union on November 21889. However, the rivalry
between the northern and southern territories
presented a dilemma: only one, upon the President's
signature on the proclamation, could gain the distinction
of being admitted before the other. So Harrison directed
his Secretary of StateJames Blaine to shuffle
the papers and obscure from him which he was signing
first, and the priority went unrecorded.