|Myra Museum to host talk on Indians of Northern Red River Valley|
The Indians of the northern Red River Valley will be the subject of free lecture Sunday, March 29, sponsored by the Grand Forks County Historical Society.
The speaker will be David Vorland, secretary of the Society. He retired in 2005 after more than 30 years at UND, including stints as an instructor of journalism, director of University Relations, and executive assistant to the President. The illustrated talk begins at 2 p.m. in the Myra Museum on Belmont Road.
Vorland said the Society seeks partners to create a new major exhibit on Indian heritage.
“As with most county museums, we have focused mostly on the period of agricultural and urban settlement,” he said. “We also need to tell the story of the earlier history of the junction of the Red and Red Lake Rivers. For thousands of years, this place has been an important landmark and trading center.”
A prehistoric Indian presence has even been discovered on the Myra Museum grounds, he said. A recent archeological dig recovered 294 artifacts documenting a hunting camp that existed in 500 A.D.
Vorland’s talk will cover the Indian presence from prehistoric times to the beginning of homesteading. Current research, he said, is altering some long-held assumptions.
For example, the evidence no longer supports previous notions about the ferocity of the fighting in northern Minnesota between the Chippewa and the Sioux. Skirmishes occurred, but the tribes also were trading partners. It was not until the adoption of the horse in the mid-1700s that the conflict became deadly in what is now North Dakota.
Eventually the Chippewa dominated the northern part of the Valley, the Sioux the southern part. At first, the Chippewa enjoyed relative prosperity by collaborating with the Pembina traders. But the end of the fur business in the late 1840s, followed by the disappearance of the buffalo, was disastrous for them.
In 1863, the Pembina and Red Lake bands signed a treaty transferring seven million acres of land to the federal government. When the flood of white settlers arrived a few years later, the Chippewa were gone from the Valley.