Indians of North Dakota

From FamilySearch Wiki
Revision as of 06:20, 16 May 2009 by Jbparker (talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

The name North Dakota is from a Sioux word meaning "friend" or "Allies"

About 6,000 American Indians lived in North Dakota in 1910. Many of them lived on reservations, but many did not. When the 1915 and 1925 state censuses were taken, Indians were enumerated throughout the state in the townships and counties where they lived and were designated as Indians on those censuses. By 1970 there were over 25,000.

Various field offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs -- superintendencies, agencies, Indian schools, and others --created records of births, marriages, deaths, adoptions, censuses, schools, land allotments, probates, and other miscellaneous records. Many of these records are available only at the originating office, if that office is still operating. Some of the original records have been transferred to the National Archives or to the Central Plains Regional Archives of NARA.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm copies of some of these records.

Tribes and Bands of North Dakota

Arapho, Arikara, Assiniboin, Atsina, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Dakota, Devils Lake Sioux, Hidatsa, Mandan, Ojibway, Santee Sioux, Sisseton Sioux, Teton Sioux, Wahpeton Sioux, Wiciyela Sioux

The Affiliated Tribes: Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara


There are five federally-recognized Indian reservations in North Dakota -- the Fort Berthold Reservation in west-central North Dakota, the Lake Traverse Reservation in the southeastern corner of North Dakota, the Spirit Lake Reservation in the east-central part of North Dakota, the Standing Rock Reservation in south-central North Dakota and northern South Dakota, and the Turtle Mountain Reservation in north-central North Dakota, near the Canadian border..

Fort Berthold Reservation (created ______)

The Fort Berthold Reservation is located in west-central North Dakota in ____________ Counties. It originally consisted of ____ acres. Some of the towns located within the reservation include ___________. The tribes on the reservation are known as the Three Affiliated Tribes -- the Hidatsa, Arikara, and Mandan. It is under the jurisdiction of the Fort Berthold Agency.

Lake Traverse Reservation (created ______)

The major portion of the Lake Traverse Reservation is located in South Dakota. A very small corner of it protrudes into southeastern North Dakota in Sargent and Richland Counties.

Spirit Lake Reservation (created 1871)

Originally created in 1871, it originally contained about 230,000 acres and was known as the Devils Lake Reservation. It is located in east-central North Dakota, mostly in Benson County. The reservation was initially under the jurisdiction of the Devils Lake Agency. The name of the agency was changed in 1906 to the Fort Totten Agency, under which it currently operates. The reservation has sometimes been called the Fort Totten Reservation. The major towns within the reservation boundaries are Fort Totten, Harmar, St, Michael, and Warwick. Devils Lake is the closest larger town, but is just off the reservation. The Devils Lake Sioux are actually a part of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Band. They are closely related to the Sisseton in South Dakota and to the Sioux living west of Brandon, Manitoba.

Standing Rock Reservation

Standing Rock Reservation is located in south-central North Dakota and in north-central South Dakota. It consists of over 3500 square miles in Sioux County, North Dakota and Corson County, South Dakota, along with small parts of Dewey and Ziebach Counties, South Dakota, The population of 8250 (2000 pop. figures) are Dakota and Lakota Sioux.

Turtle Mountain Reservation

The Turtle Mountain Reservation was established in Dec. 1882 and is located primarily in the Turtle Mountains in Rolette County, North Dakota. This federeally-recognized reservation consists of approximately 70 square miles. The population on the reservation is about 6,000 (2000 pop. figures).

In addition to the main portion of the reservation, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa also hold title to approximately 170 square miles of trust lands scattered throughout some 22 counties in North Dakota and Montana, with a smaller portion in South Dakota.


Isaacs, Katherine M., Omni Gazetteer of the United States of American. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservation, Appendix E. Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics. Inc., 1991.
National Atlas of the United States of America

Agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Agencies were created as an administrative division of the federal government to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.


Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880:Historical Sketches. Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.

Indian Schools

The Office of Indian Affairs (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs) established a network of schools throughout the United States, beginning with Carlisle Indian School, established in 1879. Some of these schools were day schools, usually focusing on Indian children of a single tribe or reservation. Some were boarding schools which served Indian children from a number of tribes and reservations.

In addition, other groups such as various church denominations established schools specifically focusing on American Indian children. (read more...)

Records Depositories

The primary records holders are the originating offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and of the respective tribes. Some of those records have been transferred to the National Archives or its Regional Archives. Some original and/or microcopied records have been collected by universities, historical societies, museums, and individuals.

Family History Library

Major James McLaughlin Papers 1855-1937 39 films Family History Library 1st film 541380

Central Superintendency 1813-1878 108 films M856  Family History Library 1st film 1602893

Dakota Superintendency 1861-1870 13 films M1016  Family History Library 1st film 1549631

Records of various American Indian tribes are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under NORTH DAKOTA - NATIVE RACES and in the Subject Search under the name of the tribe, such as "Sioux" or "Chippewa."

  • Major James McLaughlin Papers 1855-1937, 39 films 1st film 541380
  • Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency 1813-1878, 108 films 1st film 1602893
  • Datota Superintendency 1861-1870, 13 films M1016 1st film 1549631

Web Sites

History of the Turtle Mountain Reservation and Turtle Mountain Chippewas

See Also:

North Dakota-History for a calendar of events

North Dakota-Military Records for a list of forts



  • "Accompanying Pamphlet for Microcopy 1011", National Archives Microfilm Publications, Appendix.
  • American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. Washington DC: National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration, 1998.
  • Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981.
  • Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. New York, New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.
  • Historical Sketches for Jurisdictional and Subject Headings Used for the Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880. National Archives Microcopy T1105.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethonology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
  • Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.
  • National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
  • Preliminary Inventory No. 163: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Services. Available online
  • Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.