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Red River drainage 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.

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 does extend north of the 49th parallel. Annexed by Britain in exchange its cession of the Red River Valley, the northernmost parts of the Louisiana Purchase are the only North American territory 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

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