Homesteading - Homesteading Act and the Northern Plains
Originally overlooked as unproductive, the Northern Plains offered opportunity for any
determined person to own free or inexpensive land by homesteading. Land grants to
railroads also provided a source of land for migrants to the prairie.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act and created opportunity for
the 372,000 families that poured onto the prairies. The families came for many reasons –
a hunger for land, a vision for the future, a longing for adventure, or an interest in profit.
Some failed. Some scraped by. Some succeeded and, in the process, put down roots that
shaped the region as we know it.
Filmed in scenic Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota locations through all four
seasons, “Homesteading” blends interviews with historians, the stories told by descendants
of homesteaders, and dramatic readings from pioneer diaries and letters to paint a picture
of the people who struggled and toiled to create a life for themselves on the prairies.
Kim Stenehjem (Producer), Heidi Nelson (Editor), Dave Geck, Ryan Sailer, Ben Stommes,
Frode Tilden (Videographers), Ryan Sailer, Ben Stommes, Steve Wallevand (Production
Assistants), Matt Olien (Narrator), Barb Gravel (Production Manager), Bob Dambach (Executive
“Homesteading” Prairie Public 2010
Explain ways humans benefit from Earth’s resources (e.g., air, water, soil, food, fuel, building materials)
Identify historic United States figures (e.g., George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Sacagawea) and link them with their contributions
Describe how community life has changed from past (i.e., pioneer and tribal) to the present
Identify similarities and differences between past events and current events in North Dakota (e.g., in the lives of people from different cultures past and present)
Use chronological order and sequence to describe the cause-and-effect relationships of historical events and periods in North Dakota (e.g., how the railroads led to settlements in the state)
Identify the contributions of prominent individuals (e.g., Teddy Roosevelt, La Verendrye, Rough Rider Award winners) to North Dakota
Explain reasons for settlement in North Dakota (e.g., railroads, Bonanza farms, Homestead Act)
Explain the significance of agriculture in North Dakota history (e.g., immigration, railroads)
Explain the significance of scientists, inventors, and historical figures (e.g., Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce De Leon, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, Benjamin Rush, David Rittenhouse, Thomas Paine)
Explain how political leaders (e.g., Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler) dictated national policy (e.g., States’ rights, closure of National Bank, Indian Removal Act)