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Timeline / Citizenship, Services, and Sovereignty / 1953: Dam floods hospital, one-quarter of reservation

1953: Dam floods hospital, one-quarter of reservation

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River at Fort Berthold Reservation in New Town, North Dakota. The reservoir floods one-quarter of the reservation, destroying the tribal headquarters, the hospital, and 154,000 acres of fertile farm land.

“We will sign this contract with a heavy heart … With a few scratches of the pen, we will sell the best part of our reservation. Right now the future doesn't look too good to us.” —George Gillette, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, 1948

Land and Water
Great Plains

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Garrison Dam construction, 1951

Courtesy Library of Congress

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George Gillette (left), chairman of the Fort Berthold Indian Tribal Business Council, weeps as Secretary of Interior J.A. Krug signs a contract whereby the tribe sells 155,000 acres of its reservation in North Dakota for the Garrison Dam and Reservoir project, 1948.

Courtesy Associated Press