Minnesota - The Land of 10,000 Lakes

  • Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
  • In the Iron Range of northern Minnesota
  • The Minneapolis skyline in the evening
  • Palisade Head at Shovel Point on Lake Superior
  • Voyageurs National Park
The IDS Tower in Minneapolis

Northeastern Minnesota contains part of the Canadian Shield: basaltic lava that emerged from the planet on the floor of the primordial ocean some 2.7 billion years ago. This is along the shore of Lake Superior and inland, covering the Arrowhead of Minnesota and the various mountains of the Iron Range. Some of the rock found in Minnesota dates back about 3.6 billion years, making it some of the oldest rock on the surface of the planet.

The first Europeans to arrive in the Minnesota area came about the same time the Ojibwe were migrating in from the east (probably to get away from all the Europeans further to the east). To live in Minnesota, they had to displace the Dakota Sioux. That created a lot of tension that was further aggravated by the advancing encroachments of the Europeans. At first, the Europeans were only interested in furs but that market fell out around 1840. After that came the folks interested in agriculture and timber. To accommodate that, treaties were signed with the tribes that slowly but inexorably forced the tribes off their lands and onto progressively smaller reservations. Add this to the failure of the Federal government to make payments as required by the treaties and you can see this caused the Dakota Sioux great hardship. It didn't help matters any when one of the Indian agents involved, Andrew Myrick, reportedly commented, "If they're hungry, let them eat grass." Publication of the comment in the local press was followed immediately by the Dakota War of 1862. (Myrick was one of the first casualties of the war and his body was found with his mouth stuffed full of grass.) Within a couple months, the war was over and the Dakota had lost everything. 38 Dakota warriors were hanged in a mass execution on December 26, 1862, making that the largest mass execution engineered by the American judicial system in United States history.

The Federal government abolished all the Dakota reservations and voided all treaties with them shortly thereafter. Then the Dakotas who survived the four years of diseases and epidemics they suffered in the American prisons were shipped to the Crow Creek Reservation in Dakota Territory, then three years later they were moved further west to the Niobrara Reservation in Nebraska. However, during that two months of "war," nearly all the white settlers in the Minnesota Valley left and never returned. New settlers came in and rebuilt, starting new farms in the area around St. Paul and Minneapolis after the end of the Civil War.

Today, almost 60% of the population of Minnesota lives in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Minnesota State Capitol
The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul
Fast Facts about Minnesota
Capital: Saint Paul
Largest City: Minneapolis
Admitted to the Union: May 11, 1858 : 32nd
Area: 86,943 square miles : 12th
Highest Point: Eagle Mountain : 2,301'
Lowest Point: Lake Superior : 601'
2010 Minnesota Population Demographics
Total Population 5,303,925
Males 2,632,132
Females 2,671,793
Population by Age
Under 18 1,284,063
18 & over 4,019,862
20-24 355,651
25-34 715,586
35-49 1,087,297
50-64 1,031,059
65 & over 683,121
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 250,258
Non Hispanic or Latino 5,053,667
Population by Race
White 4,524,062
African-American 274,412
Asian 214,234
Native American 60,916
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 2,156
Other 103,000
Two or more 125,145
Map of Minnesota