Theodore Roosevelt, who ranched in the Little Missouri area between 1883 - 1886, wrote that:
In a great many--indeed, in most--localities there are wild horses to be found, which, although invariably of domestic descent, being either themselves runaways from some Indian or ranch outfit, or else claiming such as their sires and dams, are yet quite as wild as the antelope on whose range they have intruded.
The North Dakota Badlands
Great Depression Era - Many of the wild horses of the Northern Plains are intentionally exterminated by both locals and the United States government as competition for faltering range lands.
Late 1940s - 50s - Theodore Roosevelt National Park is formed and fenced, inadvertently enclosing some of the wild horses of the area
1960s - Theodore Roosevelt National Park's rugged terrain proves the last stronghold for wild horses on the northern plains as all other wild horses in North Dakota are ultimately exterminated
Park's Creation - 1979 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park adopts a range of varying policies towards its horses, but most of these are aimed at extermination, which keeps the population very low and very wild, sometimes dropping under 20 individuals
1979 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park gives in to popular public approval of its wild horses and declares that it will maintain a small "demonstration herd" to simulate what the range would have looked like during Theodore Roosevelt's stint in the area.
1979 - Leo Kuntz purchases his first Nokota® horses, Luppy, and then a few months later Bad Toe, from local ranchers in the Medora area. His full intention was only to use these horses for competing and for breeding to create competition horses with more bone, more brains, more agility, more endurance, and more heart than any other modern horse, but this would be the beginning of a very long, very arduous, and still very precarious fight for the survival of an entire type of horse, the last of the original horses of the Northern Plains.
Capture of Red Badger
1981 - Leo Kuntz purchases his first horses from a Theodore Roosevelt National Park Roundup, including Jumping Mouse, Wolf Vixen, and the Bald Faced Blue.
Early 1980's - Theodore Roosevelt National Park decides to "upbreed" its current herd of wild horses by introducing a range of outside horses over the course of a few years, including a part Shire bucking horse stallion, an Arabian stallion, a Quarter Horse stallion and mares, and three Bureau of Land Management stallions. Naturally, these horses could not come even close to competing with the locally adapted wild horses, so the Park also had to couple these releases with very selective roundups to remove the original horses.
1986 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park holds its most influential roundup ever. Leo and Frank Kuntz purchased 54 horses, including such crucial individuals as Black Fox, Black Squaw, Blue Roan 54, the Bobtailed Blue, Crazy Horse, Grey Butte, Grey Eyes, Grey Wolf, Hawkeye, Katz, the Keen Red, Lakota, Lakota Dancer, the Lead Blue, Lone Warrior, Nocona, Night Hawk, the Short-backed Grey, the Split Eared Blue, the Stout Blue, War Chief, and Wary Wolf. Midnight, a small black Traditional stallion, will also forever live in history for escaping capture by charging the helicopter in this roundup.
1986 - Another outcome of the 1986 Theodore Roosevelt National Park roundup was the chance meeting of Leo and Frank Kuntz and Castle McLaughlin, who was at the time researching the wild horses for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
1989 - Castle McLaughlin published her incredibly intricate report titled The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
1991 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park removes still more of the most important Nokota® horses, some of which are yet again purchased by Leo and Frank Kuntz. Infamous for his defiance but ultimate capture during this roundup was Target. Other important purchases included Painted Lady, the Bohen Blue, Remy, the two Bay NPs, and Reesy.
1993 - During the legislative session, the Nokota® horse is declared North Dakota's Honorary Equine.
1994 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park holds another discriminating roundup to further modernize its herd.
1996 - The struggles of Frank and Leo Kuntz to save the Nokota® horses are detailed on ABC World News with Peter Jennings.
1997 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park again removes the most Nokota® of its horses, with Leo and Frank purchasing the most important, including Blue TT, Painted Canyon II, and Blue Canyon.
1999 - The Nokota® Horse Conservancy incorporates and holds its first annual meeting.
2000 - The Nokota® Horse Conservancy is granted official non-profit status by the Internal Revenue Service.
2000 - Yet again Theodore Roosevelt National Park holds a devastating roundup, this time removing the last Traditional Nokota® horse, 9007, from the wild. 9007 was purchased by NHC supporters, as were such horses as 8102, the Grigg's Grey, Luna, and 8503.
2003-2006 - Sioux Artists Feature Nokota® Horses in Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project
2002 Hank Award - Frank and Leo Kuntz, for their work with the Nokota® horses, were the recipients of the 2002 Hank Award
Horses on the Prairie Camp
June 2003 - "Horses on the Prairie: An Equine Science, Math, and Culture Camp" funded in part by NASA and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium gave both Native American and non-native children from various Bismarck elementary schools a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the Nokota® horses while also furthering their scientific, cultural, and artistic studies that all tied in with the Nokota® horses.
October 2003 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park held yet another very selective roundup that left their horses looking even less like true Nokotas. Fortunately, various Nokota® supporters purchased some of the most important horses that were removed, including Wanblee and Lucky Dust.
June and July, 2004 - 2004 Horses on the Prairie Camp features the Nokota® Horses.