Today, one day in advance of the DC40’s prayer over the state of Minnesota, I pay homage to the place I still call “home”. For the “fun facts”, head on over to Kallan’s blog or Sosanna’s blog. They do a good job of ferreting that stuff out.
I wasn’t born there but I was raised in the heart of Minneapolis, spent the first half of my life there and am the third (and last) generation to graduate from my high school. So, to talk about the North Star State; or as I know it, the Land of 10,000 (and more) Lakes:
Minnesota has a rich history … before “modern” Europeans decided it was a great place to settle. Evidence suggests humans have lived there for about 9,000 years. If you have a chance to visit, be sure to travel to the southwestern part of the state to see the Jeffers Petroglyphs or up northwest to see the controversial Kensington Runestone.
Just as with most other US states, Minnesota had a thriving Native American culture before the white man destroyed it. I grew up with members of the Dakota and Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribes. Unfortunately, my friends at the time knew very little of their rich history. They’d been white-man citified. I learned about those tribes much later through research of my own. Thankfully, many are now reclaiming their heritage – more power to them!
As a teen and young adult, I thrived in a very tolerant city. At the time, Minneapolis/St. Paul had the largest LGBT population outside of San Francisco and I included many of them among my friends. (Still do.) In retrospect, Minneapolis was ‘way ahead of its time in accepting alternate lifestyles.
It was also ahead of its time accepting immigrants – the modern ones, I mean. I had the pleasure of learning about cultures as varied as Mexican, Ethiopian and Hmong; all from people who had made their way to the Twin Cities, busted their butts to learn English and became part of my white-bread world while maintaining their own cultural and religious heritage.
The people aren’t the whole of what makes Minnesota wonderful. Okay, I hate winter. I was born in Texas and my blood never thickened up. But the other three seasons of the year are, while entirely too short, extremely beautiful. You can’t go wrong canoeing through the Boundary Waters; sticking your toes into the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca; boating on Lakes Minnetonka, Mille Lacs, or take your pick of 9,998 others plus Lake Superior; walking, biking or rollerblading on the paths surrounding and linking the lakes of Minneapolis; or just having a cookout along one of the 366 rivers that wind their way through the state. (Just be sure to bring your bug repellant. You did know the mosquito is the Minnesota state bird, didn’t you? All that water! JK. It’s the common loon.) You can also take in a Minnesota Twins game now that they’ve got a real baseball park!
During those awful winter months, go inside and get cultured. Minneapolis was once referred to as “The Big Apple West” but it’s not confined to that city. New York-quality theaters, museums, art galleries and concert halls dot the state.
Can you tell I love Minnesota? Uff-da! Get rid of that white crap that blankets the state 6+ months of the year and I’d be back up there in a heartbeat.
Minnesota, hail to thee!
Hail to thee our state so dear!
Thy light shall ever be
A beacon bright and clear.
Thy sons and daughters true
Will proclaim thee near and far.
They shall guard thy fame
And adore thy name;
Thou shalt be their Northern Star.
Like the stream that bends to sea,
Like the pine that seeks the blue,
Minnesota, still for thee,
Thy sons are strong and true.
From thy woods and waters fair,
From thy prairies waving far,
At thy call they throng,
With their shout and song,
Hailing thee their Northern Star.
(I still sing the Minnesota state song with pride.)