Arc of the Medicine Line (Nonfiction)

Tony Rees, University of Nebraska Press, $29.95, Hardcover.
Tony Rees, University of Nebraska Press, $29.95, Hardcover.

Here is the story of the mapping of the “Medicine Line,” the segment of the U.S.-Canada border across the Great Plains (named so by the Indians because U.S. Cavalry, pursuing hostiles, “superstitiously” pulled up at the line). This section, from Manitoba’s Lake of the Woods to the Rockies, was the last to be determined after the eastern border and the British Columbia line. Surveying the 900-mile stretch began in 1872 along the 49th Parallel of latitude. Completion of the survey defined the final shape of the U.S., marking the world’s longest undefended border. Onlookers were Blackfeet, Sioux, Assiniboines, Métis and French-Canadian. Tony Rees’s historical study is a welcome addition to our bookshelves.

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