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Minnesota

State History

Native Americans

Minnesota has been inhabited by people for thousands of years including ancient cultures such as the Woodland people and the Mississippian culture. When the Europeans arrived in the 1600s, Native American tribes lived throughout the region. The largest Native American tribe in the area was the Dakota Sioux. They hunted buffalo and farmed crops such as corn, beans, and squash. Other smaller tribes included the Ojibwa, the Cree, and the Cheyenne.

Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes
Fish Lake in Kanabec County, Minnesota by Smoove

Europeans Arrive

The first Europeans to arrive in Minnesota were the French. Explorers such as Pierre Radisson and Medard des Groseilleirs first visited the region in the 1650s. These early explorers mapped out the coast of Lake Superior and claimed the land for France.

The French made an agreement with the Ojibwa peoples to trade for furs in 1671. French trader Daniel Graysolon, Sieur Du Luth explored the area and, in 1679, he helped to negotiate a peace agreement between the Dakota and Ojibwa tribes. The city of Duluth is named after him.

Changing Hands

After the French and Indian war between the British and French ended in 1763, the British took over the eastern portion of Minnesota. However, the land was only in British hands for 20 years when it became a territory of the United States after the Revolutionary War. In 1803, the United States purchased the rest of Minnesota from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Explorers

After buying the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson sent out explorers to learn more about the vast new land. Explorer Zebulon Pike arrived in Minnesota in 1805. His main goal was to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River. He didn't find the source of the Mississippi, but he did sign a treaty with the Dakota Indians for land in the area.


Portrait of Henry Schoolcraft
Henry Schoolcraft by Wellstood and Peters

In 1832, explorer Henry Schoolcraft finally found the source of the Mississippi River with the help of the Ojibwa peoples. He named the source Lake Itasca. Later, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would write The Song of Hiawatha based on Indian legends and stories told by Schoolcraft about Minnesota.

Twin Cities

The first major U.S. outpost in Minnesota was Fort Snelling which was completed in 1825. It was built at the point where the Minnesota and the Mississippi Rivers come together. Two major cities eventually were built up on each side of the Mississippi River. The city on the west side was called Minneapolis and the city on the east side St. Paul. Today these two cities are often referred to as the Twin Cities and are the two largest cities in Minnesota.

Becoming a State

In 1849, Minnesota became a territory of the United States. Over the next two decades, numerous immigrants from northern European countries such as Germany and Sweden settled in Minnesota. On May 11, 1858 Minnesota was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state.


Minneapolis skyline
Minneapolis, Minnesota by Jim Bean

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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