Commitment to Rural & Tribal Equity

Written by admin

November 22, 2020

Rural Matters: A Statement of North Dakota’s Grit & Resilience


North Dakota can be likened to a small town with big blocks, where there often isn’t an argument that can’t be solved over a shared plate of hotdish.


Agriculture is the core of the North Dakota economy; an economy built by the original homesteading settlers. Through their strength and determination, they created a necessary self-sufficiency that grew to become a national food self-sufficiency, with North Dakota ultimately supplying the world with food.


According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, there are 26,100 farms and ranches in North Dakota, encompassing 39.3 million acres. Nearly 90% of the state’s land is used for agriculture. In 2018, North Dakota produced enough hard spring wheat for 19 billion loaves of whole wheat bread. The 2018 Durum crop produced 1.8 billion pounds of pasta. We raise 85% of the nation’s flaxseed and provide 86% of the country’s canola.


Our state is first in the nation for the production of pinto and navy beans, flaxseed, spring wheat, oats, honey, dry edible peas, durum and canola. Additionally, North Dakota ranks in the top 10 for livestock, including beef cows, cattle and calves, and bison.  Our land is important; to us, as well as to the rest of the country and the world.


North Dakota ranks 6th in the nation for percentage of residents with a high school degree or higher at 92.3%.  While most of our schools are within rural areas, education is important to North Dakotans. The unprecedented energy boom significantly raised our population by nearly 100,000 people; people who came for a better life and have stayed. This new population, primarily in the very rural West, has infused the area with a new diversity and a new wealth of young families, who have filled the schools and helped to build new ones.


The land that comprises North Dakota had been occupied for centuries before the homesteading settlement of the state began in the 19th Century. Archeological investigations document the presence of indigenous cultures after the retreat of the continental glaciers about 10,000 years ago, resulting in settlements of hunting, gathering, and farming Tribes. When the first white explorers arrived, distinct Indigenous Tribes had long existed in what is now North Dakota. 


Today, North Dakota shares borders with five Native American reservations and one Indian Service area. Tribal governments are working hard to build self-sufficiency by increasing economic development opportunities for their Tribal members, developing agriculture initiatives for food sovereignty, and increasing education and workforce opportunities for all Tribal members. We work closely with Native-led organizations to create and support efforts to build equity and self-sufficiency across Native Nations.


We proudly recognize and respect the history of all of our ancestors and the ongoing work of all of our resilient rural residents.  The many very small communities that struggle to survive and work to maintain their quality of life, and the Tribal governments and members who seek to build self-sufficiency through traditional ways. We are proud of all our rural residents who are known for their strong work ethic, yet little known for their inherent creativity and innovation; characteristics that are imperative to maintaining the rural way of life.


At Strengthen ND, we ARE rural. Our staff grew up in rural communities, and we work to support and grow rural wherever possible.  We have seen many rural innovations. We have met, and worked with and for, committed Tribal and community innovators and entrepreneurs.


At the core of our work are the following tenets:


TENET 1: We know that rural matters. We work with great respect for all rural and Tribal residents.


TENET 2: We are committed to the work of both Tribal and rural community efforts; however, we are facilitators and supporters of Tribal and rural community self-determination, recognizing that each is different and that each deserves the ultimate respect and support.


TENET 3: We work on local, regional, and statewide levels to increase capacity and opportunities for all rural entities.


TENET 4: We are committed and enduring advocates for all rural North Dakota.

Learn More About Our Work

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