North Dakota: Turtle Mountain Reservation


About the Chippewa: The Chippewa moved from the eastern Great Lakes region to the northern Great Plains in the 1600s, roughly the same time as the first French traders and missionaries. The Chippewa, who called themselves Anishinaabe (meaning “The Original People”) became heavily involved in the fur trade late in the 17th century. Over-trapping and pressure from the Iroquois incited the Chippewa to move into Wisconsin and Minnesota. The tribe continued to move west and acquired horses by the 18th century, allowing them to shift their diet from wild rice to hunted buffalo. In 1868, the Chippewa failed in their attempt to establish a Native state in Manitoba, Canada.  

History of the Reservation: In 1882, the Turtle Mountain Band (also known as the Pembina Band) requested official recognition from the U.S. government and received the 10 million-acre Turtle Mountain Reservation. Two years later, the federal government decided that most of the population was from Canada and drastically reduced the size of the reserve. After years of legal wrangling, the federal government agreed in 1904 to compensate the tribe for the confiscated land. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa received $1 million (or 10 cents per acre) for their land. The Burke Act of 1906 gave land back to the tribe, but there was not enough space within the reservation boundaries, so the allotments came from the public domain in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, far away from the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Many of the Chippewa that moved to these allotments never returned to Turtle Mountain. 

Life on the Reservation: The Turtle Mountains, or Turtle Mountain, is in north-central North Dakota and a portion of the southwestern Canadian province of Manitoba. The reservation is tree-covered and shaped by glaciers that left rolling hills, lakes and streams.  

Today, 30,000 people are enrolled in the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe, and more than 7,800 live on the reservation. Turtle Mountain has attracted several businesses to the 43,000-acre reservation, including a Bulova watch factory, a shopping mall, industrial park, casino and the construction industry. In addition, tribal programs, the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the school provide jobs.  

Despite the economic activity, about 25% (one in four people) live in poverty with a joblessness rate of 9%. Out of more than 5,200 residents, the average yearly income is $48,000. How can I help? 

Turtle Mountain on the map: Rolette, North Dakota 


General Info 

Land Size, Demographics 

Employment Rate