Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
North Dakota Quarter
Welcome to the North Dakota quarter! In its image, it's easy to see the grazing bison, which used to roam throughout the state. But it might take a closer look to see the butte (BYOOT) in the background. That kind of flat-topped hill is common in the Badlands, a place that reminds me of the Wild West.
But North Dakota has good lands, too! There have been lots of farms in this state, though the census shows that more people are living in cities now than in the country. Besides running farms, many North Dakotans make farm machinery, process food, and set up places where tourists can have fun and learn about the state's history.
A quarter for North Dakota's neighbor, South Dakota, will also come out this year. If you've seen a picture of it, you may have noticed that the year-1889-is the same for both states. What you may not know is that both Dakotas became states not only in the same year, but on the same day! Did the president sign one of them into statehood earlier in the day?
Both states had been part of one place called "Dakota Territory," named after the Dakota Indians. When the Territory was split in two for statehood, both areas wanted to be the first to become a state. President Benjamin Harrison thought of a way to make them both happy. He had his Secretary of State James Blaine shuffle the papers. Blaine made sure the President couldn't see which state was named on each of the papers he was signing. If even Blaine knew, he never recorded the order.
So no one will probably never know which state was brought into the Union first. But that's fine with me. I still love the buffalo, buttes, and Badlands of the North Dakota quarter!