Dakota Datebook

Nekomis Missile Base Protest

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thirty-four years ago today was “International ABM Day,” an anti-war event that was planned to coincide with Armed Forces Day.

In North Dakota, the early construction stages of the Anti-Ballistic Missile “Safeguards” had many worried about nuclear proliferation and the state’s growing dependence on federal defense money that came from the building of missile sites across the state. The “North Dakota Citizens for a Sane Nuclear Policy,” as well as the “North Dakota Clergy and Laymen Concerned,” sponsored protests at several different ABM Day. Organizers announced that more than 2,000 people were coming from out-of-state, including two members of the notorious “Chicago 7.”

On May 16th, 1970, more than 3,000 protested at UND, while 1,500 gathered at the missile base under construction near Nekoma. In a wise move by the business contractors, work at the base was halted, construction was roped off, machinery was moved off-site, and sanitary facilities were brought in for the protesters. The demonstration remained under control, causing a disappointed Newsweek reporter to call it a “flop.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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