Cultural and Heritage Tourism

CEDL Program area’s initiative, Creating Vital Communities

Rath-Wald, Carmem. "Cultural and Heritage Tourism." Napoleon Homestead, 3 April 2013, 2.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin. The Lakota Sioux words, "We are all related," ring true in North Dakota, across the country and across the world.   We share many similarities, yet it is the differences that we celebrate.  The differences in our heritage connect us to our individual past, and make our story unique.   This search for connection is what motivates cultural and heritage tourism. 

Raymond A. Rosenfeld, Eastern Michigan University says, “Cultural and Heritage Tourism is a tool of economic development that achieves economic growth through attracting visitors from outside a host community, who are motivated wholly or in part by interest in the historical, artistic, scientific or lifestyle/heritage offerings of a community, region, group or institution (Silberberg 1995) 1. Such travel is focused upon experiencing cultural environments, including landscapes, the visual and performing arts and special lifestyles, values, traditions, and events.”

In 2007, research from North Dakota State University showed that tourism is North Dakota's second-largest industry, contributing $3.8 billion to the state's economy.  The industry plays an important role in North Dakota's efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth, and ultimately in improving the quality of life for our people.

Norsk Høstfest has endured for 35 years now, with Mange takk (many thanks) to festival travelers.  It grows larger with each passing festival. The primary goal of Høstfest is the preservation of Scandinavian culture and heritage. For over three decades, Norsk Høstfest has worked to preserve Nordic culture and heritage for future generations. The attendees and participants in Høstfest's production are the lifeblood of the festival.

Tens of thousands of people attend the event annually to celebrate and partake in Scandinavian culture and entertainment. Over 200 internationally-recognized artisans, craftsmen and chefs participate every year. The experience is an eclectic array of the contemporary and the traditional. The cuisine, as well as the clothes, art and jewelry, are authentic, fine quality and exquisitely Nordic.

The 44th Annual United Tribes International Powwow will be held at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota this September 2013.  The event runs Thursday through Sunday at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck is in its 42nd year. Dancers compete for tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. Miss Indian Nations also is crowned, and the annual Parade of Champions is held Saturday through downtown Bismarck.

The powwow is considered one of North Dakota's premier cultural events. It attracts more than 10,000 people every year.

German Russian Country: Prairie Legacy (Tri-County Tourism Alliance) is comprised of the three counties of Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County.  According to the 2000 census, these three counties are heavily populated with individuals of German ancestry.  In Emmons County they comprise 69.2 percent, in Logan county, 75 percent and in McIntosh an astonishing 82.2 percent.

True to the familiar mantra of the Germans from Russia “Arbeit macht das Leben süß” which translated to the English means “work makes life sweet,” the organization has collected memories for their book, Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast, which tells an engaging story of how the Germans from Russia fed their families in the early years of homesteading in the tri county area.  On these pages, the food culture of the immigrants that came to North Dakota in the 1880s and 1890s with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, is told with their own voice. Pre-publication orders coming in from around the country testify to the long reach of culture and heritage in German Russian country.

Cultural heritage tourism in North Dakota is about travelers wanting to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.  In the words of Dr. Tom Isern, Professor of History & University Distinguished Professor at NDSU, “Real People, Real Places, Real Things.”

1Silberberg, Ted. “Cultural Tourism and Business Opportunities for
Museums and Heritage Sites.” Tourism Management 16: 5 (1995): 361-365

For more information, contact or call (701) 754-2504.
Visit the Norsk Hostfest webpage at:,  German Russian Country at: and watch for updates at: for information about the 2013 powwow as it becomes available.

Reprinted with permission of the Napoleon Homestead.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller