Minnesota — History and Culture
Minnesota has enjoyed a fairly stable and prosperous economy since it began cutting timber and milling wood. Its mills have expanded to other sectors and added iron ore mining and shipping. Throughout its history, Minnesota has had a strong farming community. Today the state is diverse in both economy and population, with rich Scandinavian roots and a thriving arts scene in Minneapolis-St Paul. The natural beauty of the state and the strength of its people have shaped residents into some of America’s nicest folks. They seem to take everything in stride and are always welcoming when visitors come to town.
Like most of the northern United States, Minnesota had been traditional Native American land long before the first French fur trappers arrived in the 17th century. The Dakota, Sioux and Ojibwe were three of the biggest tribes in this region, and they did not always get along. Fort Snelling was built in the early 1800s to protect American interests in the area.
In the mid-1800s, Native Americans began selling their land to the US government and were displaced onto small reservations. This did not sit well with the Dakota, which led to the six-week Dakota War of 1862. The Indians lost and were moved to Crow Reservation in Dakota Territory. Hundreds of white settlers and Native Americans were killed in the battle.
Farming and logging were the first big industries in Minnesota thanks to the wealth of waterways that provided transportation and irrigation. Sawmills at Saint Anthony Falls and logging hubs at Winona and Stillwater helped the state grow. The mills gradually expanded into the flour industry, and several historic mills like Phelps are still around.
Iron ore provided the next economic boost, and port towns like Duluth and Two Harbors prospered through shipping routes on Lake Superior. The Great Depression brought much of Minnesota’s industry to a halt, allowing farming to become more important.
After WWII the state became a center for technology manufacturing. Early computer companies like Control Data and Cray built their headquarters in Minneapolis-St Paul, which in turn injected much needed cash, jobs and positivity into the state. With a strengthened economy came the creation of cultural attractions like the Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center. Today, Minnesotans enjoy a broad lifestyle supported by outdoor recreation tourism and the energy of the Twin Cities.
Ask any American who the friendliest people in the are country and the answer often is Minnesotans. Maybe it’s the brutally harsh winters that forge such warm-hearted folks, but whatever the cause, it’s welcoming to travelers who can expect smiles and help all around.
Minnesota is well-known as a center of Scandinavian and German heritage thanks to the immigrants who settled over a century ago. Recent newcomers have been Asian and Latin American, helping create a rich ethnic diversity especially in Minneapolis-St Paul. The population of the state is one of the healthiest and best-educated in America. Residents are involved in their local communities and enjoy both the outdoors and the arts.