Western North Dakota sits atop of a very large oil reserve known as the Bakken formation. Between 2008 and 2014, thanks to the Bakken, North Dakota enjoyed a booming economy, even while the economy of the rest of the country – and the rest of the world – suffered. People flocked to the rural state, and towns grew quickly. Some (like Williston) that had 12,000 people suddenly had 30,000. Long-time residents had to figure out how to deal with the newcomers, while people new to the area had to learn about their new communities.

This site is devoted to the changes that took place — and continue to take place — in western North Dakota. It is part of a collaborative project undertaken by faculty members at the University of North Dakota and the University of Ottawa. Its purpose is to help new people understand North Dakota and to help North Dakotans understand the changes their state is undergoing. It’s meant to engage a wide range of people affected by North Dakota’s boom and bust cycles – residents, newcomers, scholars, political and business leaders, and even people outside the state who want to understand what’s been going on.

The project has three parts. The first was a graduate seminar in communication held at the University of North Dakota in Spring 2014. The second was an edited volume written by scholars and community members, published in Spring 2016 by the Digital Press @ the University of North Dakota. The third is a book project called Sixty Years of Boom and Bust, which reprints and updates The Williston Report, a 1958 volume (now in the public domain) describing the effects of the region’s first oil boom in the 1950s. The updated version should be published by the Digital Press @ UND in 2019.

Project leader:

Kyle Conway, Dept. of Communication, University of Ottawa

Other collaborators:

William Caraher, Dept. of History, University of North Dakota
Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

Banner image photo credit: Beverly Conway


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