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American Folklife Center Collections: North Dakota

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of North Dakota at the Library of Congress.


Cathy ten Broeke, photographer. Sister Kathleen Atkinson at Ministry on the Margins while breakfast is being served. Homeless Shelter Workers in the Upper Midwest. Occupational Folklife Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from North Dakota document the diversity of its expressive culture. Beginning with Frances Densmore's cylinder recordings of Teton Sioux songs in 1911 and 1914 at Fort Yates and of Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara songs between 1912 and 1915 at Fort Berthold, the North Dakota archival collections are strong in documentation of the state's Native people. Among the noteworthy collections is the University of Chicago, Fort Berthold Project recordings of Arikara spoken word. In addition, Euroamerican immigrant traditions are found in collections such as Mrs. George Sturgeon's recordings of Norwegian music in Grand Forks (1961-63), and in German-Russian photo, manuscript, and audio documentation related to the German-Russian Ethnic Studies program at Emmons Central High School in Strasburg (1982).

Homeless Shelter Workers in the Upper Midwest

In 2016, social services worker, writer and documentarian Margaret Miles of Minneapolis, Minnesota, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document workers in the emergency homeless services in three interrelated Midwestern urban centers—Bismarck, North Dakota, Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois. In North Dakota, Miles interviewed Sister Kathleen Atkinson, founder and Executive Director of the Ministry on the Margins in Bismarck. Ministry on the Margins assists ex-offenders with re-entry after leaving the nearby North Dakota State Penitentiary, and offers meals, a food shelf, children's toys, and household items for anyone in need in the community. Explore materials related to the "Sister Kathleen Atkinson" interview.

Additional Collections of Interest

Public Programming

Performance of storytelling by National Heritage Fellowship Award winner Mary Louise Defender Wilson, a Dakotah/Hidatsa elder enrolled with the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and by Keith Bear, a Mandan/Hidatsa flute player and storyteller enrolled with the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota, performed in the Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress on August 16, 2006, as part of the Homegrown concert series.