Northern Dakota Territory in 1870 was a sea of grass waiting for
the plow share. With the end of the Civil War, America saw an unprecedented
surge of immigrants land on its shores. Many of them were in search
of free land offered through the Homestead Act. The immigrants and
the land came together on the northern Great Plains from the 1870s
into the early twentieth century. This explosion of people, farming,
and building transformed, in a surprisingly short time, the flat,
rich land of eastern North Dakota—the Red River Valley. The landscape
became dotted with small farms, around which trees had been planted
to shelter them from the almost incessant wind; with towns situated
along the railroad lines like a web across the prairie;
and the most impressive scene of all, the seemingly endless fields
This transformation was the work of numerous immigrants, as well
as internal migration from points further east in the United States.
Numerous countries and groups are represented in the ethnic mosaic of North Dakota. Dominating all other immigrants were Norwegians and German Russians, followed by Germans, English, Czechs, and Swedes. In addition there were groups from the
Ukraine, Poland, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, as well as French Canadians.