Rolette County Information

Vital Statistics

Population, 2006 Census Estimate 13,903  Up 1.7% from 2000 Census
Area size - 913 sq. Miles
Elevation - 1,630 ft
Climate - habitually cold winters, mild to warm summers

Location - North Central Portion of North Dakota 

County Seat - Rolla

10 Miles from Canada

30 Miles from International Peace Gardens 

60 Miles from Rugby  The Geographical Center of North America

75 Miles from Devils Lake 

120 Miles from Minot 

210 Miles from Bismarck 

500 Miles from Minneapolis/ St. Paul

Other local County Cities:  Belcourt, St. John, Rolette, Mylo, Agate and Dunseith 


Auditor, Valerie McCloud -


Rolla: If you like small town living, you’ll love Rolla with 7 churches, an accredited school system, modern medical facilities including a 50 bed hospital. Rolla is the home of several industries and complete selection of stores, restaurants and services. Rolla is also the seat for Rolette County.

Contacts:  Rolla Job Authority
(701) 477-3610, Fax (701) 477-9633   Email Address:   

Dunseith: Known as the gateway to the International Peace Gardens, Dunseith is a nice example of Smalltown, USA. Located in the foothills of the Turtle Mountains on the junction of Hwy 5 and U.S. 281, Dunseith boasts a beautiful golf course, Clinic, shopping facilities and motel; Log House and Tourist information center is open from May to September.

Contacts: Dunseith Log House Tourist Center
(701) 244-5680

Rolette: A very progressive community located in the center of Rolette County. Many summer visitors travel through this town on their way to the International Peace Garden. Fall visitors enjoy the abundance of waterfowl, also an excellent golf course located along a meandering creek. Next to the golf course, hunters can sharpen up at the trap shoot and rifle range.

Contacts: Rolette City Hall
(701) 246-3511     Website:

St. John: Nestled on the edge of the Turtle Mountains, St. John is the home of the Rolette County Historical Society, which houses a lot of the communities histories. Mainly a residential community, it boasts all the necessary services such as Grocery store, Hardware & Plumbing Supply, Gas Station, restaurant, lounge, churches, First Responders for medical needs, and a new public school. Tourists here on their way to the International Peace Gardens, sportsman stop on their way to hunt and fish in the beautiful Turtle Mountains.


Mylo: This small community lies 16 miles south of Rolla in the heart of farming country. Though small, its residents are a necessary part in the make-up of Rolette County.

BELCOURT: Turtle Mountain Band of Pembina Chippewa

Story of the People
The Turtle Mountain Reservation is located in Rolette County in the wooded, rolling hills of north central North Dakota.  The ancestors of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa migrated from the Great Lakes in the late 1400s.  Drawn by the fur trade, they became middle-men serving as trappers, voyagers, guides, and caretakers of the land.  The Pembina Chippewa developed lasting relationships with the Cree and French.

Offspring of Chippewa or Cree Indians and French Canadians are known as Métis.  North Dakota's first community, Pembina, was built by the Chippewa and Métis people.  The Turtle Mountain Reservation was established in 1882.

The reservation is located on 46,000 acres in Rolette County and includes the community of Belcourt.  The tribe has 29,161 members, of whom about 13,000 live on or near the reservation in Rolette County.  The tribe operates several enterprises, such as Turtle Mountain Manufacturing, Uniband Data Processing and the Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino, which employs more than 1,000 people. (Source ND Tourism)

Rolette County Schools

Rolette County Superintendent of Schools
Dwane Getzlaff
PO Box 939
Rolla ND 58367


Dunseith Public School
PO Box 789
Dunseith ND 58329-0789
Grades K-12
St. John Public School
PO Box 200
St. John ND 58369-0200
Grades K-12
Mt. Pleasant Public School
RR 1 Box 93
Rolla ND 58367-7178
Grades K-12
Belcourt Public School
PO Box 440
Belcourt ND 58316-0440
Grades K-12
Rolette Public School
PO Box 97
Rolette ND 58366-0097
Grades K-12
Belcourt Headstart
PO Box 900
Belcourt ND 58316



Ojibwa Indian School
PO Box 600
Belcourt ND 58316-0600
Grades K-8
Dunseith Day School
PO Box 759
Dunseith ND 58329-0759
Grades K-8


Turtle Mountain Community College
PO Box 340
Belcourt ND 58316



A little bit of history.....

Dakota Territory was created in 1861 by a bill signed by President Buchanan just before his term ended. Two days after the territory was created, one of the first official acts of the new president, Abraham Lincoln, was to appoint his old friend, Dr. William Jayne, as Governor of the Territory, of which Yankton was then the capitol. By 1873, an act of the Congress divided North Dakota into counties and what is now Rolette County was then known as Buffalo County. Since then the boundaries were changed twice to form the present county and the name Rolette was given in honor of "Jolly Joe Rolette", a French-Indian fur trader who was a vital part of the development of the Great Northwest and what is now North Dakota.

In 1883, settlers were coming into the area locating primarily near St. John and Dunseith. Many of them felt the time had come for the county to be organized. In 1884 Arthur Foussard, M. Welton and Fred Schutte were named as County Commissioners. The newly formed board met near Dunseith to organize, Fred was named Chairman and Dunseith was established as the County Seat.

There were citizens who were not content to see Dunseith set up as the county seat of Rolette County. It soon became apparent that the people of St. John were prepared to make trouble. At any rate, St. John was determined to get the county seat at any cost. Although there is no record of any petition for a county seat vote, an election was held May 6, 1885. Much campaigning on both sides preceded the election and considerable ill feeling was engendered. Neither the Dunseith or St. John partisans had much respect for the intentions of the other.

On election day a committee from St. John came to Dunseith to watch the voting and a committee from Dunseith went over to St. John. But despite this vigilance, a large amount of repeating is said to have taken place. Although both sides accused the other of illegal tactics, St. John appeared to have been the worst offender — the charge being that 1,125 votes were cast by approximately 225 voters. Before the issue could be settled in court, St. John proceeded to set up their county government, even though a second county government was still functioning.

The county records for this period have the unique distinction of containing the minutes for two rival county boards of Commissioners. When the issue had finally been settled in court, officials from St. John went to Dunseith for the records. On the way back, one of the big safes fell into a creek, important books and papers scattered. The Dunseith citizens felt they had the last laugh even though they had lost their bitter fight. In 1889, the northern part of Dakota Territory was admitted to statehood as North Dakota and in the general election of 1889 the county seat was changed to Rolla and moved from St. John in 1890.

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