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Finding Aid - The Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea

Spillway of the Garrison Dam. SHSND A7112

The Garrison Dam was built by the U.S. Government to control flooding and for continuity of downstream barge traffic. Strong opposition to this dam came from those who lived on the banks of the Missouri River, primarily American Indians, who were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods when the waters rose to create Lake Sakakawea.  


10691 Roy Johnson and Louis Pfaller
Folder 4 of Box 59 in the Roy Johnson and Louis Pfaller Collection contains newspapers, maps, and other information from the time of the building of the Garrison Dam.  Some of the newspaper clippings contain information on the flooding of the towns, like Elbowwoods, and the change it had on the Native Americans.

10781 Garrison Dam Relocation Oral Histories
This box contains the tapes and transcripts of an oral history project conducted to find out about the removal of Native Americans and non-Indians from their homes to build the Garrison Dam.  Most of the people interviewed were in high school when news broke they were to move to make room for Lake Sakakawea.  The interviews contain information about moving, schools, working on the dam, and the affect it had on communities. 

10924 Northern Plains Conference of the United Church of Christ
Two important missionaries, Charles L. Hall and Harold Case, worked on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people. Boxes 5 and 6 of this collection contain histories of the missions, schools, and the reservation. Harold Case also played an important part in the fight against the Garrison Dam.

11041 R.J. Sailer
This box contains a folder on the opposition of the Garrison Dam.  The folder has pamphlets on the pros and cons of building the dam at Garrison or at the Upper location.  Also supplied is information about the effect the dam and reservoir would have on the Three Affiliated Tribes of the reservation.  There is also a folder in the box on the Rural Electrification Administration.  This folder had handouts for people on how to prepare their homes for the electricity.

11084 United States Army Corps of Engineers Garrison Dam Construction
The Army Corps of Engineers was in charge of the building of the Garrison Dam.  These videos provide a look at the construction of the Garrison Dam and other dams along the Missouri River.

21067 Garrison Dam Impact Study Interviews
Due to the building of the Garrison Dam, many North Dakotans’ lives changed.  This oral history interviews eight people who lived near the affected areas.  Most of those interviewed are non-Indians.  The interviewees recall hearing the news of the dam, the moving, and life after the move. 


MacGregor, Gordon. "Attitudes of the Fort Berthold Indians Regarding Removal from the Garrison Reservoir Site and Future Administration of their Reservation." North Dakota History, January 1949: 31-60
This article provides information on how the building of the Garrison Dam affected the Native Americans who lived on the Fort Berthold Reservation.

Meyer, Roy W. "Fort Berthold and the Garrison Dam." North Dakota History, Summer and Fall 1968:220-355.
This edition of North Dakota History focuses on the history of Fort Berthold and the aftermath of the Garrison Dam.

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