Present-day Pembina County is quite different than its early beginnings. The rich soil that present-day Pembina County is so well known for began as the sediment of a once huge glacial lake, Lake Agassiz, which covered the area for some 5000 years. After a period of bison-grazing and development of the Indian cultures in the area, Governor Andrew J. Faulk appointed a commission to organize Pembina County, the first county in what was to become the state of North Dakota in 1867. Originally, the area encompassed the present counties of Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Steele, and Pembina, most of Nelson and Walsh, plus parts of Richland, Barnes and Ransom. In 1871, Pembina grew again - more than doubling in size, acquiring non-county land to the West and South. In 1873, however, the trend was reversed. Pembina shrank to approximately one and 1/3 of its present size. In 1885 it lost land to Cavalier County and attained the size we are familiar with today. The name of the county is derived from the Chippewa Indian term for the high bush cranberry, which grew in abundance along the Pembina River.
The government in modern-day Pembina County is led by a 5-member Board of Commissioners. Commissioners are elected to 4-year terms, and are elected and voted on by district. The Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Clerk/Recorder, and Auditor/Treasurer are also elected positions within Pembina County. The Board of Commissioners meets twice monthly to discuss and direct the business of the County. Twenty different departments consisting of approximately 80 employees work together to provide the many services to residents of the county every day. In July 2012 the Pembina County Courthouse celebrated its 100 year Anniversary with an honorary program and open house. Click on one of the links to the left to find more information.