Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where the Heck is Pembina?

Ox Cart Angel’s main character, Claire Dumont, comes from the town of Pembina, now part of North Dakota. In 1862 when the novel takes place, however, North Dakota was part of Dakota Territory, which took up South and North Dakota, as well as much of what are now the states of Montana and Wyoming. The Dakota Territory was formed in 1861, only a year before the events in the novel take place, so for most of Claire’s life, Pembina was part of the Minnesota Territory. It’s a bit confusing, I know. However, despite which country, territory or state Pembina used to belong to (Canada once even thought it belonged to them in the early 1800s) it is still in the same place it always was; hugging the Red River and snug right up against the present-day Minnesota border on its eastern side, and almost touching Canada on its northern side. In fact, the Pembina State Museum has an observation tower from which you can see Canada.

It’s a small town, its population under 600 in 2010, but what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in its importance to our country’s history. I hope to make it up there this next summer. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find it. If I get lost on the way, I can always listen for and follow the ghostly squeaking of ox cart wheels that once plied the area. Surely they can still be heard if you listen hard enough. 

No comments:

Post a Comment