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Photo of a Viking ship float in parade
This Viking ship replica, restored in 1999, has been a mainstay of area Icelandic celebrations since 1928

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100th Annual Celebration by Icelanders
A Local Legacy

If the United States government offered you free land, would you take it? Thousands of people did when the government passed the Homestead Act in 1862. This act offered settlers 160 acres of free public land in the Midwest if they lived on and cultivated it for at least five years. This law was one of the reasons why so many immigrants moved as far west and north as North Dakota in the last half of the 19th century.

The immigrants who moved west came from many parts of Europe. Most of them were Norwegian and German, but they also came from such countries as Sweden, Ukraine, England, Finland, and Iceland. By 1915, 79 percent of all people living in North Dakota were either immigrants or the children of immigrants.

North Dakota residents like to celebrate their diverse ethnic heritage. For instance, in 1999, the town of Mountain honored its Icelandic cultural legacy by throwing its 100th Annual Celebration by Icelanders. More than 10,000 people from the United States, Canada, and Iceland, including the President of Iceland, came to celebrate. The festival's parade included a replica of a Viking ship.

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