The border between Minnesota and Canada is 547 miles long. The entire U.S.-Canada border is 3,987 miles, excluding Alaska. That border with Canada is 1,538 miles alone. The U.S.-Canadian boundary is the largest non-militarized border in the world. In 2007, 11.2 million Canadians crossed the border to the U.S., and 10.6 Americans went to Canada. These are same day trips. This year, 12 million are expected to cross at Niagara Falls alone.
The U.S.-Mexican border compares at 1,933 miles. With public awareness focused on the Mexican border, size is apparently not the issue. Across the U.S., thirteen states have boundaries with Canada. Only four states have boundaries with Mexico. I just returned from a trip to Buffalo, NY where the newspapers were filled with reports about the new requirements for border crossing. U.S. citizens in Buffalo were rushing to get enhanced driver's licenses that would allow them to continue their frequent trips across the international border at Niagara Falls.
The Six Nations of Hodenosaunee (or Iroquois) have a separate agreement with the U.S. and Canada, and will be issuing their own enhanced identity cards in December. In the meantime, special new, hologram-imbedded cards are available, which along with a letter, will suffice. The Six Nations have family and business connections across the two borders and travel regularly to and from Canada. Former agreements and treaties allowed all Six Nations members to travel freely over the borders with a simpler tribal identity card. Since 9/11, the jittery governments have stepped on their prior treaty agreements.
Along the Minnesota border, there are similar associations of Ojibwe families on either side of the U.S. - Canadian borders. Like the Hodenosaunee, much prior to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, the territories of these native nations and the Dakota spread across the north and northwest. Further west, dozens of tribes' territories traversed the borders of the relatively new countries.
Minnesota has four major border crossings: Warroad, Baudette, International Falls, and Grand Portage. Except for truck traffic, they are relatively pokey compared to Niagara Falls. Nevertheless, Minnesotans have the convenience of international travel without going very far.
Laura Waterman Wittstock is president and CEO of Wittstock & Associates. The firm provides consultation in new projects, creative, development, assessment/evaluation, and governance. Read more about Laura Waterman Wittstock
We take looking up at the skies for granted. The stars and moon will always be there. Only the headlines of a transit of Venus or the infamous blue moon calls our attention to the reality that the firmament is not fixed and we are a tiny population in a galaxy far away. Most people agree that we should educate ourselves all of our lives. There is no room for closed thinking, especially not for the coming generations. It will comfort many Minnesotans to know that the MN Planetarium Society just passed an important 100,000 mark. That many school children have now had lessons about the cosmos, given by Planetarium teacher Sally Brummel. We have a few small planetariums like the ones in Duluth, Hibbing, or New Ulm, but only one serves the entire state: the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center. For many reasons, support from the City of Minneapolis and then Hennepin County has lagged. Now, a new partnership with the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota gives some hope that a new planetarium will be available to the people of the state. Minnesotans should show their support by picking up the phone, sending an email, or writing a letter to the members of the Legacy Division in the House or the Environment and Natural Resources Committee in the Senate.
The shootings that resulted in injury and death in Arizona compel every one of us to take stock - not just to what happened there but to what is happening in our own lives. In a strange way, the violent deaths of others causes many of the living to appreciate life all the more. We can link ourselves easily to the young child mercilessly gunned down but also to the adults, particularly those who died while saving others. This is the heroism of which we hope we all are capable when the time comes.
Where does "pro life" figure in the debate of more insurance which will lower infant death rates compared to what we have now? Infant death rates are one thing, the uncounted numbers are in non-medical fetus loss due to poverty.
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