February 11, 2020 — On this date in 1991, the Senate approved a bill to name the Nokota horse North Dakota’s honorary state equine.

When he was living in North Dakota, Teddy Roosevelt wrote, “In a great many...localities there are wild horses to be found, which (are) as wild as the antelope on whose range they have intruded.”

That changed after the Great Depression, when officials decided to eradicate the horses, which were descended from Sitting Bull’s war and buffalo ponies. After being rounded up or shot for the next 20 years, a small number found safe haven when they were accidentally trapped inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That was during the ’40s. Since then, those, too, were removed and were replaced by domestic breeds.

Thankfully, the Nokota Horse Conservancy, a non-profit organization at Linton, works to protect the breed from extinction.

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.

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