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Pembina County, North Dakota

Pembina County, North Dakota
Map of North Dakota highlighting Pembina County
Location in the state of North Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting North Dakota
North Dakota's location in the U.S.
Founded August 12, 1867
Seat Cavalier
Largest city Cavalier
 • Total 1,121 sq mi (2,903 km2)
 • Land 1,119 sq mi (2,898 km2)
 • Water 2.7 sq mi (7 km2), 0.2%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 7,128
 • Density 6.6/sq mi (3/km²)
Congressional district At-large
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website .gov.pembinacountyndwww

Pembina County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Dakota. At the 2010 Census its population was 7,413.[1] The county seat is Cavalier.[2]

The area along the Pembina and Red rivers was long inhabited by various indigenous peoples. At the time of European contact, the dominant tribe were the Assiniboine and the Lakota (or Sioux, as the French colonists called them). Later the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) migrated into the area from the east and became the dominant tribe. The people had a long trading relationship with French colonists and supported them during the Seven Years' War against Great Britain. By the time of the War of 1812, the Ojibwe were allied with the British against the United States, hoping to forestall or slow European-American settlers' encroaching on their territory. During the first half of the nineteenth century, continuing conflicts between the Lakota and Chippewa along the Red River slowed European-American settlement. The Chippewa pushed the Lakota to the west and became dominant in the area.

The county was created by the 1866–1867 Dakota

  • Pembina County official website
  • Icelandic State Park
  • Pembina County, North Dakota in the World War (1919) from the Digital Horizons website
  • Homestead maps of Pembina County from the Digital Horizons website
  • Pembina's pride-? : our rambling court house : new county buildings--where? (1910) from the Digital Horizons website

External links

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  7. ^ About US: "Move to the Plains", Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, accessed 27 June 2011
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  16. ^ a b
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See also

American Indian reservations

Unincorporated communities




The median household income fwas $36,430 and the median family income was $45,338. Males had a median income of $30,400 compared with $21,340 for females. The per capita income was $18,692. About 7.4% of families and 9.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.

Nearly 80% of the county was under the age of 65 at the 2000 census, with children under the age of 18 taking up nearly a quarter (24.9%) of the population followed by 45-64 year-olds (24.8%) and 25-44 year-olds (24.6%). Those over the age of 65 were 19.5% the population, with 18-24 year-olds at 6.2%. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.[18]

There were 3,535 households of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.98.

At the 2000 Census,[16] there were 8,585 people, 3,535 households and 2,364 families residing in the county. The population density was 8 per square mile (3/km²), with the bulk of the population centered in the cities.[17] Housing density was 4 units per square mile (1/km²) with 4,115 housing units in the county. Racially, the county is predominately White, at more than 95%. There is a small population (1.43%) of Native Americans (1.43%) in the county. African Americans and Asian combined make up less than 1% of the total. 0.21% 1.27% are from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos made up a little more than 3% of the population. Early in the county's history, there was a large influx of settlers from Iceland.[6] By 2000 the Census Bureau reported that Icelanders made up just 7.9% of the population, third after Norwegian (25.0%) and German (24.0%). French and English and 6.6% ranked fourth and fifth, with 7.9% and 6.6% respectively.[16]


Adjacent counties and rural municipalities

Major highways

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,121 square miles (2,900 km2), of which 1,119 square miles (2,900 km2) is land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) (0.2%) is water.[10] The lowest point in the state of North Dakota is located on the Red River of the North in Pembina Township in Pembina County, where it flows out of North Dakota and into the Canadian border of Manitoba.


Icelandic State Park, located in Akra, was established to preserve evidence of this early pioneer heritage.[9]

The first Icelandic settlements in what is now North Dakota were established in Pembina County in the late 1870s. Many of the immigrants came from New Iceland near Lake Winnipeg, along with other Icelanders who moved into the area from colonies in Wisconsin. The new settlers lived primarily in the so-called "Icelandic Townships" of Akra, Beaulieu, Gardar, and Thingwalla. The State Historical Society of North Dakota reported fewer than 3 or 4 non-Icelandic families living there in the early 1900s.[6] Evidence of this heritage is found in several township and city names with Icelandic origins.[5] Akra was named after the town of Akranes, near Reykjavík; Gardar was named for Gardar Svavarsson, who was reportedly the first Scandinavian to visit Iceland; and Hallsson was named for an early settler, Johann P. Hallson.[5][8]

Between 1873 and 1881, eleven new counties were created from Pembina, including Cass County and Grand Forks County. Pembina took its current form in 1887, when Cavalier County was increased in size.[3]

The precursor to Pembina County was a county of the same name in the Dakota Territory on January 9, 1867. At the time, it was much larger than it is today. In 1871, the county was expanded to include much of the territory in what is now eastern North Dakota from Canada to the South Dakota border.

Over time, the Chippewa were persuaded to cede much of their land by treaty to the US, which in turn sold it to homesteaders. They moved to relatively small Indian reservations within their earlier territory.

The Métis used two-wheeled, ox-drawn carts to transport great quantities of furs to market along the Red River Trails, between what is now Winnipeg, Canada and Mendota or St. Paul, Minnesota. They also used the ox-carts to transport food and shelter during extended buffalo hunts.

"We understand here, that the district or department called Pembina, comprises all of the country or basin which is irrigated or traversed by the tributaries of the Red River, south of the line of the 49th parallel of latitude. The prairies’ rivers and lakes which extend to the height of land of the Mississippi, and the immense plains which feed innumerable herds of bison to the westward and from which the Chippewa and half breeds [Métis] of this region obtain their subsistence, contains within their limits a country about 400 miles from north to south and more than five hundred miles from east to west."[7]

Father Jesuit missionary who served them, described their territory in 1849 as the following:

With the British defeat of France and takeover of its colonial territory, the Chippewa learned to deal with a new trading culture. Armed with guns by trading and having adopted the horse from the Mandan and Hidatsa, by the end of the eighteenth century the Chippewa had migrated from woodlands to the Great Plains and begun to push the Lakota west before them. By the time of the War of 1812, the Ojibwe allied with the British against the United States, hoping to forestall European-American settlers' encroaching on their territory. With the settlement of the northern boundary with Canada, the Chippewa within the Dakota Territory were forced to deal with the United States. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Chippewa had continued conflicts with the Lakota along the Red River, finally pushing them into present-day western North and South Dakota.

For thousands of years, various indigenous peoples inhabited the area along the Pembina and Red rivers. At the time of European contact in the 16th century, the dominant tribes were the Assiniboine and the Lakota (or Sioux, as the French colonists called them). The Ojibwe, also known as Chippewa, a branch of the Anishinaabe-speaking language group, gradually migrated west along both sides of the Great Lakes. They developed a long trading relationship with French trappers and colonists. Throughout the Red River of the North area, French trappers married Native American women, and their descendants continued to hunt and trap. A large mixed-race population developed, recognized as an ethnic First Nations group in Canada called the Métis. The Chippewa and Métis generally supported the French forces during the Seven Years' War in the mid-eighteenth century against Great Britain.

Frontier doctor Dr. Charles Boarman Harris, one of the original pioneers to settle in Pembina, was the first county physician. He delivered over 3,000 babies born in the region between 1882 and 1942.



  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Major highways 2.1
    • Adjacent counties and rural municipalities 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Communities 4
    • Cities 4.1
    • Townships 4.2
    • Unincorporated communities 4.3
    • American Indian reservations 4.4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Cavalier Air Force Station and Icelandic State Park are both located in Pembina County. The first Icelandic immigrant settlement in present-day North Dakota was in Pembina County in the late 1870s, when a colony of settlers from Iceland moved into the county from the New Iceland homesteads near Lake Winnipeg.[6]

[5].Cavalier, the oldest European-American settlement in the state, was the county seat from 1867 to 1911. The seat was relocated to Pembina. The city of Pembina River term for high-bush cranberry, which grew in abundance along the Chippewa "Pembina" is derived from the [4][3]

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