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Fort Totten State Historic Site

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Located on the southeastern edge of the town of Fort Totten, this site preserves a military post built in 1867 and used continuously as a military reservation until 1890 when it became a boarding school for Native American children. The brick buildings, which replaced an earlier log fort, appear much as they did when built of locally made brick in 1868. Original buildings are now being used to house museum exhibits.

Fort Totten served American Indian policy from 1867 to 1959. Constructed as a military post, it also functioned as a Native American boarding school, tuberculosis preventorium, and reservation school. Initially, the fort policed the surrounding reservation. The soldiers enforced the peace, guarded overland transportation routes, and aided Dakotas who lived near Devils Lake after 1867. Fort Totten was decommissioned in 1890.

On January 5, 1891, the former post became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The post served as a Native American boarding school until 1935. Academic and vocational training prepared American Indian youth for life off the reservation. Enrollment sometimes topped 400.

From 1935 to 1939, the site was a tuberculosis preventorium run by the federal government. This successful program was aimed at small groups of Dakota children who were at high risk for contracting the disease. While continuing their studies, the children also received care to prevent tuberculosis.

After this program was discontinued, the site returned to being a day and boarding school for the reservation in 1940, with more input and control gradually given to the tribal government of Spirit Lake Nation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs transferred ownership of the school to the tribe in 1959, and the facility and students moved to a new school just east of the site.

Fort Totten was gifted to the state of North Dakota in 1959 and became a state historic site in 1960. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

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417 Cavalry Circle
Fort Totten, ND 58335
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Winter Hours (Tuesday of Labor Day Weekend-Memorial Day Weekend):
Weekdays by appointment only

Summer Hours (Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day):
Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Grounds are open year-round, Monday - Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact Fort Totten:
phone: 701.766.4441

Contact SHSND:
phone: 701.328.2666