State Historical Society noting 150th anniversary of Dakota Territory

The seal of the Territory of Dakota. (Image courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society)

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota State Historical Society is noting that March 2 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Dakota Territory in 1861.

When established, Dakota Territory represented the northern-most section of the Louisiana Purchase, which included present-day North and South Dakota, along with most of Montana and Wyoming. In 1868, the territory was winnowed down to the present boundaries of North and South Dakota, with both gaining statehood on Nov. 2, 1889.

The official description of the Dakota Territory Seal is found in Chapter 56 of the General Laws of the Territory of Dakota, passed at the Second Session, 1862-1863 and titled, “An act to establish a seal for the Territory of Dakota.” The act had two sections.

Section 1: That the following described seal is hereby declared to be and is hereby constituted the great seal of Dakota Territory, to wit: A tree in the open field, the trunk of which is surrounded by a bundle of rods, bound with three bands; on the right, plow, anvil, sledge, rake and fork; on the left, bow crossed with three arrows, Indian on horseback pursuing a buffalo towards the setting sun, foliage of the tree arched by half circle of thirteen stars, surrounded by the motto, “Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever;” the words “Great Seal” at the top, and at the bottom, “Dakota Territory;” on the left, “March 2;” on the right, “1861.”

Section 2: This act to take effect from and after its passage and approval by the governor.

Territorial Gov. William Jayne signed the act on January 3, 1863. North Dakota kept many of the attributes of the Dakota Territory seal when it created its own State Seal.

South Dakota held anniversary celebrations for both the 50th and 100th anniversary of the establishment of Dakota Territory.

The Territorial Sesquicentennial is the theme of this year’s annual conference of the State Historical Society, taking place May 20-21 in Pierre. For more information, visit or call (605) 773-6000.

— From a South Dakota State Historical Society news release

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