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Old Crossing Treaty Park - Red Lake County

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Red Lake County manages Old Crossing Treaty Park for primitive camping and picnicking. Photo by Dave Arscott.


Old Crossing Treaty Park lies at the confluence of the Red Lake and the Black River and is 13.5 miles (21.8 km) downstream from Red Lake Falls. There are several amenities in the park including boat ramp access, picnic tables, drinking water, and toilets. There are two units to the park, one just north of the boat ramp and one at the boat ramp. Adjacent to the park is a DNR Wildlife Management Area where hiking and wildlife watching opportunities exist. Across the river is the 40-acre Huot School Forest, owned by the University of Minnesota, managed by the Crookston Campus. At average water levels, the journey takes about 4 hours. The current can be swift and flows through several Class II rapids, making travel faster pace. Canoeing at low water levels will be difficult.

Excerpt from "The Red Lake River" by J-D Huot-Vickery © July 2001
This small park (once a state park, now a Red Lake County Park) was the site of an 1863 treaty between the U.S. government and Red Lake/Pembina Ojibwe in which the Ojibwe cede about 11,000,000 acres of the Red River Valley (an area approximately 180 miles long north-to-south, and 127 miles wide) for $510,000 and various goods, provisions, and presents.

In 1932 the site was commemorated with a life-sized bronze statue of a Chippewa/Ojibwe man holding a peace pipe. This same site was well-known even before the treaty. For about 30 years in the mid-1800s it was the chosen location by oxcart drivers--freighting goods on the Pembina Trail between St. Paul and today's Winnipeg--to cross/ford the Red Lake River.

A box nailed to a cottonwood tree (taken out in 2000 by lightening; the stump is still standing) was used for mail exchange by Pembina Trail travelers. For the last 20 years, Old Crossing Treaty Park has been used by L'Association des Francais du Nord/The association of the French of the North (AFRAN) to host a multi-cultural Chautauqua and French Festival in late August. The festival involves native Americans and Canadians, Metis, Red River Valley residents of French-Canadian descent, and people of other ethnic heritage.









The park is next to several natural lands. Photo by D. Arscott.








The entry way to the lower unit at the park and the bronze statue of the Chippewa/Ojibwe man holding a peace pipe. Photo by D. Arscott









The access at the park is good. Photo by D. Arscott








This statue is a memorial to the treaty signed in 1863 by the United States and the chiefs, headmen, and warriors of the Red Lake and Pembina Bands of Chippewa Indians, which ceded the Red River Valley to the US. Photo by D. Arscott








Primitive camping is allowed. Photo by D. Arscott










There is a small well head in the park for fresh water. Photo by D. Arscott