A real-photo postcard sent by a white resident of North Dakota encouraging a friend to homestead on the Berthold Indian Reservation. From “Frank”.
A real-photo postcard sent by a white resident of North Dakota encouraging a friend to homestead on the Berthold Indian Reservation

A real-photo postcard sent by a white resident of North Dakota encouraging a friend to homestead on the Berthold Indian Reservation

Plaza, North Dakota: 1912. Unbound. The card is signed, “Frank. Plaza, N. D.” It is franked with a 1-cent green Franklin stamp (Scott A138), which has been canceled with an unusual “Minot & Bismarck / N.D.” postmark with the word “South” centered under the year, “1912”. The card has some minor soiling and wear.

This card features a photograph of three people in front of a wooden building and is captioned, “Homesteaders on the Berthold Indian Reservation Some claims left yet. Hurry.” One of the men in the photograph is dressed in overalls and is holding a scythe. Another is wearing a long-sleeve shirt with bowtie and a white lumber company apron. The third person appears to be a female who is seated on the ground, wrapped in a blanket, and holding dog in her lap. The writing on front of the card is in the same hand as the message on the other side of the card. Very good. Item #009418

Plaza is located on the northern border of the Fort Berthold Reservation, about 45 miles southwest of Minot and 125 miles northwest of Bismarck. Zigzag branch lines of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (the Soo Line) connected all three cities, so perhaps the postmark is railroad related.

Following the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, the United States agreed that the Mandans, Hidatsas, and Arikaras could remain in their traditional homelands. In the late 1860s, an increase of steamboat transportation through the region began to deplete the forests along the Missouri River as crews cut vast quantities of wood to fuel their riverboats’ engines. The tribes complained to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and after a series of meetings, they agreed to give up a large portion of their homeland in exchange for a protected reservation near Forts Berthold and Stevenson. The Fort Berthold Reservation was established in 1870. Shortly thereafter, the Teton Dakotas laid claim to and were awarded some of the Berthold land, and in 1880 the Northern Pacific Railway was granted another segment of the reservation that had never occupied or hinted upon. Although some U.S. army officers objected, still another part of the reservation that was never occupied or hunted upon was transferred to the Northern Pacific Railway in 1880. Six years later, the tribes gave up even more land for settlement by white farmers in exchange for $800,000 that they used to fund agency services and reservation schools.

In 1906, the year Plaza was founded, Congress considered taking unallotted reservation land and opening it for additional white settlement, however the tribes objected, and the matter was dropped. Then, in 1910, Congress passed a law authorizing any lands on the reservation that were not being used for tribal administration or had not been allotted to specific tribal members to be to be purchased by non-Indians for homesteads. As this postcard documents, some of this homestead land was still available for purchase in 1912. See “Opening the Reservation: Waiting for the Land” online at North Dakota: People Living on the Land.

Although the “Three Affiliated Tribes” lost much of their traditional lands during America’s westward expansion, today prosperity abounds on the reservation, as it lies directly over the heart of the Bakken oil patch. In the last 11 years the tribes have collected over $1.6 billion in royalties and tax revenue. See “While One Tribe Fights Oil, Another Cautiously Embraces It” online at Inside Energy.

Price: $125.00

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