History Lives On at Fort Buford


“Sitting Bull’s name appeared in 72 point type at the masthead of every newspaper in the world,” tour guide Arch Ellwein tells a group of sixth graders. 

It’s a story he’s told many times. Countless times, in fact.

“Yeah, about in the neighborhood of twenty thousand,” says Ellwein. 

It’s a story that’s been passed down through generations.

“My favorite part of the tour was just imagining how these people back then went through stuff,” says Killdeer Public School sixth grader, Dean Dumas. 

That’s because Fort Buford is one of the state’s oldest historical sites. Older than the state of North Dakota in fact.

“Thinking about the life of Sitting Bull and the Lakota people, this marked the end of the Plains Indian. That lifestyle that they knew, that they lived for hundreds of years, generation after generation, was over,” says Ellwein. 

Visitors can a take a boardwalk trail from structure to structure, learning about the site’s significance.

“History is all these stories. And they’re all true from a different perspective,” Ellwein tells the group of students. 

And while the stories told here are more than a century old, new life has been  breathed into them. 

“It’s a romantic part of American history sent into the archives, never to be visited again,” says Ellwein. 

But it is visited again here, giving it relevance in modern times.

“Maybe when we get older we’ll be able to tell our kids,” says Wesley Smith, a sixth grader at Killdeer Public School. 

So that the history of this place, of the state, and the people who came before, will be passed on for generations to come.

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