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Red River Basin

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Title: Red River Basin  
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Subject: Louisiana Purchase, Central United States, Territorial evolution of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Red River Basin

The Red River Valley is a region in central North America that is drained by the Red River of the North. It is significant in the geography of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba for its relatively fertile lands and the population centers of Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Winnipeg. Paleogeographic Lake Agassiz laid down the Red River Valley silts.

Early settlement

The first significant influx of Europeans was the result of French fur trading activity in the Great Lakes region. In the mid-17th century the Métis, descendants of these Frenchmen and Cree tribes people (in addition to other First Nations peoples), settled in the valley.[1] These people, in addition to many First Nations people in the region, were hunters and traders involved in the fur trade. Soon interest in the region for its fur production led to the establishment of the Red River Colony by Lord Selkirk in the early 19th century.

U.S. geographical importance

The U.S. government uses the term to generally describe the sections of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota which the U.S. secured title to following the Anglo-American Convention of 1818. Centered around the Red River of the North, these lands had previously been under the control of Great Britain. This land became part of the U.S. when the second article of the 1818 treaty declared the 49th parallel to be the official border between the U.S. and Canada up to the Rocky Mountains. (This borderline was extended to the Pacific Ocean in 1846 under the Oregon Treaty.) The land acquired from the treaty had an area of 29,601,920 acres (119,794.72 km²), comprising 1.3 percent of total U.S. land area.

It is often thought that the title was secured by the U.S. at no cost. However, the territory of the original Louisiana Purchase west of the Red River Valley extends north of the 49th parallel. Annexed by Britain in exchange for its cession of the Red River Valley, the northernmost parts of the Louisiana Purchase are one of the few North American territories ever ceded by the United States to a foreign power.

The region was sparsely populated until Ojibwe claims to the most fertile portions of the valley were extinguished in the Treaty of Old Crossing (1863), after which it opened rapidly to agricultural development and settlement in the 1870s and 1880s. The area is one of several distinct regions of Minnesota.

See also


External links

  • RiverWatchOnline: Red River History
  • Red River Valley History

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