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Editorial: November 2014

Celebrating 125 years of statehood


North Dakota was created on Nov. 2, 1889 when then-President Benjamin Harrison signed the enabling act that created the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington.

Over this 125-year journey, North Dakota has changed dramatically, while at the same time holding firm to its agrarian values and pioneering spirit.

An interesting description of our history juxtaposed with modern-day North Dakota can be found in the 2013 – 2015 North Dakota Blue Book, published by the N.D. Secretary of State, Al Jaeger. The opening chapter, titled “Then and Now,” describes our state’s rich history and immigrant culture, while highlighting the economic advances that have made North Dakota what it is today. One can walk through this transformation by visiting the galleries in our state’s new Heritage Center, which officially opened Nov. 2 with a ribbon-cutting led by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

At the Heritage Center, please take time to visit the “Power of the People” exhibit, which opened in the Governor’s Gallery. This exhibit tells the story of rural electrification and the great change it brought to our state through a greatly improved quality of life and increased productivity for farmers, ranchers and their families.

In the concluding words of the “Then and Now” chapter, the contributors write:

“North Dakota has a lasting legacy of drawing newcomers, then and now, who seek to improve their lives through hard work, opportunity and an independent spirit. The state has changed tremendously since it was a part of Dakota Territory; yet, North Dakota remains very much like it was in the early years, with many of its inhabitants making livings and building lives through an enduring and loving dependence on the land.

“The land provides generously. As it was in the late 1800s, the state is still a burgeoning agricultural center, and has now become a booming oil and gas producer as well. North Dakota’s natural resources —and their inherent raw and natural beauty — are an integral part of the state’s rich cultural and historical heritage. …

“Perhaps it is the life-giving quality of this harshly beautiful land that makes North Dakota so magical for its inhabitants, whether they are new arrivals or have lived here for generations. Perhaps it is the memory of the proud, hardworking Americans and new immigrants tilling the soil. Whether it is the people or the land itself, it is clear that North Dakota grows what is good and rich and wonderful.

“North Dakota has prospered, both then and now, because of the generosity of a land hard-worked, and because of the generous and enduring pioneering spirit of the people who live here and call it home.”

Happy Birthday, North Dakota. May our best years lie ahead.



Dennis Hill, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Dennis Hill, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email to