Pembina County was created by the 1866-1867 Dakota territorial legislature, and was organized on August 12, 1867. "Pembina" is derived from the Chippewa term for high-bush cranberry, which grew in abundance along the Pembina River. The city of Pembina, the oldest European-American settlement in the state, was the county seat from 1867 to 1911. The seat was relocated to Cavalier.
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