St. Joseph (now known as Walhalla) is located in northern North Dakota, approximately 5 miles south of the US/Canadian medicine line. The location was a preferred camping location for the Ojibwe and Métis people during the early 1800s due to the protection that the tree cover and numerous draws and valleys offered. Many small cabins were built there and a small settlement started growing, with many large buffalo hunts originating at this location.
In 1843, trader Norman Kittson decided to open a trading post here to better serve the local community. At about this same time, Joe Rolette helped organize Red River cart trains to haul furs and hides to St. Paul. The new commercial activity created by the increased cart trade drew many new Métis families to the area, and by 1849 there was a resident population of one thousand.
In 1851, Father George Belcourt moved his mission from Pembina to this location and christened the settlement “St. Joseph.” For two decades, St. Joseph was the center of the Métis culture in the United States – reaching a peak population of about 1,200 people.
In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company surrendered their possessions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to the Dominion of Canada. This affected the fur trade economy. Then, in 1870, the US opened a land office and started offering homesteads to European settlers who soon started to edge the Métis and Ojibwe hunters from their hunting lands. By 1877 only a handful of Métis remained in St. Joseph, They were quickly replaced by Scandinavian immigrants who changed the character of St. Joseph and the name of the community to Walhalla.
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