Working Together in North Dakota

Strategy: Collaborate in New Ways, Enhance Your Product

Type of attraction: Historical Society, Museum/Historic Site

Summary: Collaboration has always played a key role in North Dakota’s heritage tourism efforts.

Collaboration has always played a key role in North Dakota’s heritage tourism efforts. Claudia Berg, expansion and new Initiatives coordinator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota notes, “We still partner with everyone here when budgets are OK and when budgets are tight.” Some of North Dakota’s partnership projects include:

Passport to North Dakota History, a public-private partnership program begun in 2003 between the State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, Tesoro Corporation and the Cass-Clay Creamery.  Pocket-size passports featuring more than 70 sites across the state are printed and distributed at state historic sites and Tesoro gas stations across North Dakota. Twenty-five thousand passports were printed in 2010, and passports include space for visitors to document the date a site was visited as well as record their own comments about the experience.  Berg observes: “The passports are a great way to get North Dakotans to explore their own history and heritage.”

Dakota Date Book is a partnership effort started in 2007 between the North Dakota Humanities Council, Prairie Public Broadcasting and the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Every day of the year, North Dakota’s public radio airs a one-to-three minute spot about what happened on this day in history in North Dakota. “Efforts like this that raise the awareness of the importance of our local history pay off in the long run when we need to approach the state legislature or other potential funders,” comments Berg. 

North Dakota’s German-Russian Heritage Initiative has brought the state historical society, state tourism office, North Dakota Extension Service, North Dakota State University and other partners together with communities in the heart of German-Russian country. Working initially with a 3-county region, these state agencies have provided guidance and financial assistance to local partners to help celebrate the cuisine, language and culture of the area’s residents who are Germans who came to the United States after living in Russia. Plans are underway to develop infrastructure to support heritage tourism opportunities. 

Interest in more recent history led to the designation of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site in Cooperstown as North Dakota’s newest state historic site. To place this new history into a larger context, North Dakota is reaching out to other states such as South Dakota, Arizona and Nebraska who also have Cold War era attractions to help create a multi-state Cold War Corridor. An added bonus to interpreting recent history is that there are people who lived through this era, and worked at this missile site, who can provide oral histories and other first-hand information about their experiences.