North Dakota highway signs phasing out Red Tomahawk image
New highway signs are being switched out for signs featuring the shape of North Dakota instead of the traditional image of the Red Tomahawk.
According to North Dakota Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jamie Olson, the highway signs portraying a silhouette of a Native American, known as the Red Tomahawk signs, are being replaced with signs using a silhouette of North Dakota. The process will take time and will take place on an as-needed basis.
There are a few routes across the state where the change has already taken place, mostly on highways undergoing construction, but it will be years before the full transition to the new signs is complete.
The Department of Transportation made the decision for the switch to take place during the 2016 construction season, ahead of the 100 year anniversary for the department, which will be celebrated in 2017. DOT has also said that the change is being made to keep uniformity with other states throughout the nation since a number of states use their state outline or symbol on the highway signs.
The Red Tomahawk image appeared on highway signs in 1923 after a marking and numbering system for highways was developed by the state. The image is modeled after Marcellus Red Tomahawk, a Latoka Indian who made a name for himself in the late 1800s by negotiating peace deals for the Dakota territories, working as a goodwill ambassador and being a member of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' police force. He is also the man who shot and killed Sitting Bull in 1890.