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History of United Tribes And Fort Lincoln

History of United Tribes Site

Construction on building 9 which is now United Tribes Administration Building
Construction on Building 9 which is now UTTC Administration Building

UTTC is located on what was originally open prairie. It is situated up from the river bottomlands on a grassy plain a short distance north of where a meandering stream, Apple Creek, turns to enter the wide Missouri River south of Bismarck. The area was originally territory of Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people, along with Dakota. Prior to settlement, two battles that became known as Apple Orchard “fights” occurred in the area south of the site.*

Internment Camp Entrance
Fort Lincoln Internment Camp front gate

In 1895, Congress established the second Fort Lincoln and construction began in 1899. **The original fort consisted of 30 brick structures. From 1902 to 1916, the fort was a mobilization point for troops headed for a conflict in the Philippines and the border dispute with Mexico. It was also used to assemble and prepare troops for World War I. Beginning in 1928, a Citizen’s Military Training Camp was established on site. In the 1930s, the fort served as regional headquarters for the depression-era work program Civilian Conservation Corps.

Internment Camp Entrance
Citizen's Military Training Camp, Fort Lincoln



From 1941 to 1946 during World War II, a portion of Fort Lincoln was cordoned off for human confinement. A 10 foot high cyclone fence topped with barbed wire and fortified with guard towers converted the post into an internment camp in the U.S. Justice Department’s Alien Enemy Control Program.

1973 Deed to Ft. Lincoln signing ceremony
1973 Deed to Fort Lincoln signing ceremony

In 1948, the property became headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during construction of Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea. In 1966, the site was declared excess property by the military and retired from use. The site was remodeled and served as the Lewis and Clark Job Corps Training Center until 1968, and briefly hosted Peace Corps training in the summer of that year. After acquiring the site, United Tribes began educational training programs in September 1969. The Federal government transferred ownership of 87 former Fort Lincoln buildings and 106 acres of property in 1973. UTTC has continued to repurpose the buildings for educational uses, adding new facilities and expanding the campus. In 2000, UTTC acquired 132 acres, on which the college’s new, south campus is growing.***

* The first Apple Orchard fight took place in 1833 between Arikara and Yanktonai Dakota and the other 30 years later, in 1863, during a military expedition directed by Henry Hastings Sibley against Yanktonai Dakota. Goodhouse, Dakota (2004)

** This Fort Lincoln, south of the Bismarck airport, is the second military post of the same name in the immediate area. The one at Bismarck followed the demise of the frontier military post south of Mandan, ND, on the west side of the Missouri River. The first Fort Abraham Lincoln was made famous by the brief presence from 1874 to 1876 of its commanding officer, George A. Custer. The second post came along after Custer’s post had been decommissioned and the buildings dismantled.

***The UTTC use of Fort Lincoln has turned out to be quite beneficial for the Bismarck/Mandan community. Over four decades in service to Indian education is the longest continuous occupation and use of the fort’s facilities for one purpose. None of the sporadic military occupations or government programs lasted as long. Nor did they contribute as much economically to the community. The most recent UTTC economic impact study shows the college contributes $32 million in direct funding into the local economy over the course of only one year.

Click on an image below to view larger picture.
Image of co-ed dorms
Itancan Leadership Lodge, 2006, co-ed dorm building
1973 Deed to Ft. Lincoln signing ceremony
United Tribes Medicine Wheel

Science & Technology Center constructed in 2010
Science & Technology Center, 2010, new south campus

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