Initially, the fort policed the surrounding reservation. The soldiers enforced the peace, guarded overland transportation routes, and aided Dakota (Sioux) who lived near Devils Lake after 1867. Fort Totten was decommissioned in 1890. On January 5th, 1891 the former post became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The post served as an Indian boarding school until 1959. Academic and vocational training prepared Indian youth for life off the reservation. Enrollment sometimes topped 400. After independent tribal government was established, a community school operated in the buildings from 1940 to 1959.
It is considered the best preserved military post of the Dakota frontier era. Today you can visit the interpretive center, take a walking tour of 16 original buildings, vist the Pioneer Daughter's Museum, take in a show at the Fort Totten Little Theatre, and stay at the Totten Trail Historic Inn bed and breakfast. School children often attend the "Fort Totten Living History Field Day" in September.