“For once, you may envy the folks who live in Sioux Falls,” wrote the Star Tribune’s reporter in a May 4 article lamenting the fact that Paul McCartney’s Midwest tour began in South Dakota rather than Minnesota (“5 reasons to see Sir Paul yet again”).
As a writer, I know this was just a cute way of starting an article, so I’m not condemning the wonderful Star Tribune. There are days when some of us in South Dakota are envious because the Star Tribune isn’t published here.
Still, that article’s opening insult does call for a response, because the Star Tribune surely has a lot of young readers who are wondering where they want to spend the rest of their lives. Recent patterns indicate that thousands are considering moves to the Dakotas, so we wouldn’t want the offhand “envy” remark to discourage such inclinations.
Census figures from 2010 to 2014 show that Minnesota lost 25,200 fine citizens to domestic migration. South Dakota actually gained 12,100 — including many Minnesotans who recognized that you can still be a Twins and Vikings fan and a connoisseur of walleye and whitetail while living west of the Big Sioux River.
South Dakotans and Minnesotans share much history and culture. We’ve both suffered from unmannerly politicians who engaged in stupid border wars, usually over fairly idiotic economic development issues. Those were embarrassments we had to share and endure together, maybe like a couple with a prankster child who tags the church with graffiti.
We share lutefisk and Chad Greenway (born in Mount Vernon, S.D.), sadness that can still be traced to the 1862 Dakota War, Hubert Humphrey (raised in Doland, S.D.) and a thousand other things, most of them good.
We also share the Mississippi River, because it starts in South Dakota. Yes, it’s true. Minnesotans are taught that the Mississippi’s headwaters are in northern Minnesota, but any honest geographic study will show that the Mississippi’s true source is the Minnesota River, which originates near Veblen, S.D. — north of where Paul McCartney opened his Midwest tour, by the way.
Geologist Wendell Duffield reached that conclusion after much research. “Parts of the Minnesota [River Valley] are up to four miles wide and 400 feet deep,” says Duffield, while the Mississippi Valley north of the Twin Cities “is like a superficial scratch on an otherwise nearly planar surface.”
In other words, he’s saying the claim that the Mississippi starts in northern Minnesota is shallow, at best — not unlike the aforementioned lead paragraph.
Who can say why Paul McCartney chose Sioux Falls as a tour stop? He reportedly wanted to include some smaller venues that normally might not be considered. Obviously, the singer lives the words he wrote so long ago and then performed in Sioux Falls — and 48 hours later in Minneapolis: “For well, you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool … by making his world a little colder.”
Or, as my pastor says, blowing out another’s candle doesn’t make yours shine brighter.
Lots of young Minnesotans are moving to South Dakota, especially to Sioux Falls. Some young Dakotans are emigrating to Minnesota. It’s all cool, as Paul would say. You can love both places.
I imagine to McCartney — and to the younger generation — our two states look about as much alike as the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
Both of which can be traced to South Dakota, by the way.
Bernie Hunhoff is a state senator from Yankton, S.D. He writes for South Dakota Magazine.