Section 6: State Nicknames

One of North Dakota’s nicknames

Figure 70. One of North Dakota’s nicknames is the “Flickertail State,” named after the Richardson ground squirrel. (ND Game and Fish Department)

The Peace Garden State

Figure 71. The Peace Garden State is a nickname in honor of the International Peace Gardens. “Peace Garden State” was adopted as the official nickname in 1957. (U.S. Department of Defense)

The nickname “Roughrider State”

Figure 72. The nickname “Rough Rider State” honors Theodore Roosevelt, an adopted son of North Dakota. (SHSND C1451)

North Dakota is known by several nicknames. They include the Flickertail State, the Peace Garden State, and the Rough Rider State.

Richardson ground squirrels, a type of gopher, are also known as flickertails because they flick their tails while running or just before entering their burrows. In 1953, a bill was defeated in the Legislative Assembly that would have adopted the “Flickertail” symbol as the official emblem of the state.

The International Peace Garden is part of both North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. In 1956, the State Motor Vehicle Department placed “Peace Garden State” on license plates. This nickname proved to be so popular that in 1957 the Legislative Assembly adopted “Peace Garden State” as the official nickname of North Dakota.

“Rough Rider” referred to a cavalry, or army on horseback, which Theodore Roosevelt led during the Spanish-American War. Several North Dakota cowboys were part of this military group. In order to lure more people to visit North Dakota, some tourism advertising began calling North Dakota the “Rough Rider State.” In both 1971 and 1973, the Legislative Assembly defeated bills to change the nickname to the “Rough Rider State.”

The official nickname of North Dakota remains the “Peace Garden State.”