A great debate has filled the air of Sweeney Hall, Room 411 for almost a year now; why are there two Dakota states? You hear the question, and it sounds slightly ridiculous, and almost like something said just to cause a rise out of somebody, but the arguments have actually taken an interesting turn toward historical, geographical, and cultural reasoning. Having a North and South territory is certainly nothing new or uncommon, with of course instant examples of North and South America’s, Carolina’s, and the Poles of the Earth, but that’s not without purpose. There is significant belief that the two states of North and South Dakota should combine into one combined Dakota, and the benefits seem to be plentiful.
In looking at the history of the Dakota territories, it is discovered that the united territory split in 1889, due to controversy on the location of the capitol, with ND’s in Bismarck, and SD’s in Pierre. In November of that same year, both North and South Dakota were added into the Union as the 39th and 40th States (“North and South Dakota” 1). At the time, this seemed like a well thought out move, with the ability to add two states to the ever-growing country instead of just one large one. However, we’re now in a time when the matter of a state’s capitol seems trivial, especially when you consider the humongous size of both states, yet, the sparsity of the population. In North Dakota, a state 70,762 square miles total, there are 739,482 people whom claim citizenship in the state (Krogstad 1), and in South Dakota, a state 77,184 square miles total, there are 853,175 people. Just for reference, the city of Detroit, 142.9 squared miles total, harbors 688,701 people, or 80% of the population of South Dakota, living in an area that is .1% the size of the state. The combination of the states would only help the population of the super state, which we will call Dakota, grow to a more respectable 1.5 million people, giving it a larger population in it’s “Big Cities”, and make it an all around more reasonably sized state. In retrospect, “Dakota” would be about 10% bigger than the Minnesota, it’s neighbor state, and would have a slightly smaller population. It’s not out of the stretch of the imagination to believe that this would work out beneficially for the state, having more of a general, large population and workforce. Now that we understand how the population and size of the state would work, we can observe societal and cultural advantages of combining the two states into one major state.
Making the territories into one Dakota has the ability to make many changes for how the states would be viewed. Despite the aforementioned immense size of the Dakota’s, they hold an abysmal three electoral college votes (“Electoral College” 2010) each in every election, giving them as many as Wyoming and Vermont, and less than New Hampshire and Maine. Obviously this is much in part of the tremendously small populations of the two states, but the super-Dakota would be a more respectively viewed battleground state if it were able to hold at least six first place votes. As mentioned previously, with a mostly-Republican voting majority in the two states, in-state politics, after the current Governor’s’ terms would end, would be able to have a vote for the single-state Governor, House, and Senate, so that they could decide which political leader is in power for the inaugural Dakota election. Likewise, their senators and congressman would be taken more seriously, with the state now having more of a say in each election, and sending more representatives to Washington DC. Moving away from politics, there are a number of other cultural advantages to having one-super state. There are 24 states in the U.S. that do not have a major sports team, and this list includes North and South Dakota (“North Dakota Sports” 1) There are collegiate sports in the states, including impressive Hockey programs. In their geographic region, next to Minnesota and below Manitoba, Canada, they would be in the prime location to have consideration for an NHL expansion team. This is brought to mind as a relevant topic, as there are currently thirty teams in the NHL, with 16 in the Eastern Conference, which begins east of Chicago, and 14 in the Western Conference (LeBrun 1). This is obviously not an equal amount of teams, and with many of the considered teams in the expansion coming from North East Canada, having a sudden-emerging market from a newly formed, heavier populated state such as Dakota, it would be a match made in Heaven for the NHL and for a geographic area that is so Hockey-rich. This seems like a long shot, until you again, do consider that the largest city in the two states, Sioux Falls, would have a population increase from it’s current 164,000, and that the State itself is right below a Province in Manitoba that just had an NHL team granted to it, and the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” in Minnesota. It’s geographically a no-brainer, culturally a fantastic idea, and would bring plenty of positive press to the new Dakota, as well bring in many people from outside of the Dakota region into the State. Aside from Mount Rushmore, there aren’t many things to attractive from a tourism standpoint regarding the Dakota territory, but the attraction of a sports team can completely change the influx of people to a specific city, if not to the entire state. This seems like one slippery slope theory, but this is the type of thing that has happened and worked out so well for many Canadian cities, such as Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary. With Hockey as rich in these cities as it no doubt would be in whatever city it would be granted to in Dakota, the success rate is well above passing. Keeping in the idea of sports, and moving back to the college world, you can imagine that the talent pool in every sport between the two states and all their universities, would be able to be available in one state for more prestigious, more populated, and more notable new universities. Instead of having a North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, you could have just University of Dakota, and Dakota State. These would have the great professors of all these school inside of two larger schools, all the students, and all the talent in two central locations, and could help these two schools be more well known in the national viewing. The amount of positive interactions that could be possible in the combination of the States for viewpoint from outside of the territories seems to be completely apparent.
It may seem like it’s a lot to do, and almost impossible for what is being proposed, but this discussion is not the first of it’s kind. The people of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan had started a petition to secede from the Lower Peninsula, and become it’s own State. Where that would be a separation, this would be a combination, and you would have to think would be a much easier thing to get across with governments and citizens. While there would be difficulties like, as before, where the capital city would be, it could be settled much more professionally, with discussions between representatives from both sides, and could be publicly voted for. It’s a system that would work if it were just given a few years to figure it out. While it most likely is not a plan to be executed in the next few years, if ever, it’s a proposal that I feel would have nothing but positive results for the citizens of the state of Dakota.
Krogstad, Jens. “How North Dakota’s ‘man Rush’ Compares with past Population Booms.” Pew Research. Pew Research Center, 16 July 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
LeBrun, Pierre. “Rumblings Expansion Decision Unlikely To Come This Month.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
“Electoral Votes.” Electoral Votes. Federal Election Commission, 6 Nov. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
“North Dakota – Sports.” North Dakota – Sports. City-Data.com, 15 June 2007. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
“North Dakota and South Dakota Were Admitted to the Union.” North Dakota and South Dakota Were Admitted to the Union. America’s Library, 17 July 2006. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.