Why Are There Two Dakotas?
North and South Dakota are forever linked together for plenty of reasons. For starters, they're right next door to each other and share a similar climate and culture. They also share the same name, Dakota. But why is that? And why are there two Dakotas, anyway?
It all goes back to the days of the Dakota territory. As you may know, the original capital of the territory was in Yankton. This created a bit of a problem for the rest of the territory though, as Yankton was extremely isolated from just about anywhere else in those days. The capital was then moved to Bismarck, which was one of the fastest-growing communities in the Dakota Territory at that time.
Eventually, when statehood became a possibility, it was decided amongst the territorial leaders to split the Dakota Territory into two. But where? Some discussion revolved around an east-west split at the Missouri River, but that was ultimately ruled out, due to the lack of population west river at that time. It was then decided that the two states would divide north to south, rather than east to west, and on November 2, 1889, both North and South Dakota were admitted to the union as the 39th and 40th states. Bismarck stayed the capital of North Dakota, because of its growing population and central location, and Pierre became the capital of South Dakota.
The two states share a long history together, including both being named after the Dakota (Santee Sioux) tribe. And that influence is still felt throughout both states to this very day.