It's a non-story that's become a story: Should Minnesota chip away the ice and set itself adrift from the rest of the Midwest? Should it start to carve its own Great North identity into the permafrost? Should it embrace its parkas and pond hockey and semi-frozen park systems? In essence: Should it proudly wear its North-iness on its coat sleeve in order to attract more people to it? 

In December of last year, Eric Dayton, co-owner of the Bachelor Farmer and son of Mark Dayton, put forth the idenity-crisis question on MPR, which was later noted in a story in the Line Media: Is it time for Minnesota to differentiate itself from the rest of the Midwest so that it can become an economically and culturally viable, robust state? 

Last week, CNN picked up the story, stating that Minnesota's attempts to "rebrand itself" are already underway. Minnesota, CNN said, wants a divorce from the Midwest. 

But what exactly is Minnesota's true identity? And what do people think of it? 

For the answers, I asked the real experts. People from other parts of the world. 


Nick Roest; Leiden, Netherlands 

Where is Minnesota?

I think it is the middle and a bit to the east. 

What do you know about it? 

I used to think "Minnesota" was a brand name for a cleaning liquid. 

What do you imagine it is like?

I think it's very flat surrounded by some mountains where the other states are. I think there are farmers and less industry. Very cold winters. Not much to do. It is very dull.

The flora and fauna is not as diverse as in other states. 

I think the population is on average about 45. I think a lot of young people don't want to stay there anymore. 

I don't know if this is right or wrong, but this is the feeling I've got. 

So what do you think about it in terms of being called the Midwest or the North? 

I think whatever they do, nothing's going to work. It is what it is. You can't change that. 

I suppose it is technically possible to change it. I guess if you could ski in the desert, you can change anything. You can ski in Saudi Arabia. So Minnesota could become like a Las Vegas if it wanted. But that's not going to happen, now is it? You aren't going to become a Minnesota Las Vegas? 


Rein Jongejan; Leiden, Netherlands

Where do you think Minnesota is? 

I think it is in the North. And it is cold. 

Isn't the nickname of it the North Star?

Would you be more likely to visit there if was branded as a "the North" of America? 

No, because the Netherlands is bad enough in winter. 

When you hear the word "Minnesota," what do you think? 

I don't know…I think, is it a lemonade? A "mini soda"? 


Sjoerd Jongejan; Leiden, Netherlands 

Where do you think Minnesota is? 

It is left of Chicago. 

What else do you know about it? Is it in the North or the Midwest?

No, it's not in the center or the west. That's other states like Nebraska, right? 

I know Minneapolis was founded in the late 1800s because of the name, "polis," it's a Greek name. 

And I thought Minnesota had something to do with typewriters. 


James A.; Springfield, Missouri, USA.

Would you consider Minnesota part of the Midwest?

Not really. I consider it a northern state. 


Well, it borders Canada. Midwest I think of being Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska…Isn't the center or the heart of the country somewhere in Kansas near where Bob Dole was born?  

So you think it would be better for Minnesota if it branded itself as "the North"?

The Midwest is considered kind of conservative. More bible belt. 

And what do you think the North has that is unique? 

I don't know, to be honest with you. I have no idea. I guess when I think about Minnesota I think about the Twins, Mall of America, and lake-effect snow. 


Chris and Wendy Bray; Montreal, Canada 

Where do you think Minnesota is? 

Chris: It is south of Manitoba.

Wendy: I think I need to look it up on a map. I don't know where it is. 

What do you think of when you the name "Minnesota"?

Chris: I think of sports teams. The Twins. The Vikings. It has some pretty good sports teams. 

What do you think the landscape is like?

Wendy: Isn't that where all the geysers are? (laughs) I thought maybe they were in that area! 

Chris: I think of rivers. Our river system [In Canada] feeds off of them. I think the Mississippi is in Minnesota? I think the landscape is similar to Manitoba. Parklands. Some rolling hills. Maybe more forestry than Manitoba. 

And what do you imagine the culture is like?

Chris: I think it is probably similar to Boston. It's not like some of the southern states. In my mind's eye you can go from Winnipeg to Minneapolis and it wouldn't be that big of a transition. 

So do you think of Minnesota as being in the Midwest or the North?

Chris: The Midwest…is that Indianapolis? To me that's not what Minnesota is. It would be the North. 

Wendy: For me, I don't know the difference. Why would anyone be more intrigued by one than the other? I don't know what would be more attractive!

Chris: I would say the North would be more attractive. It has lots of water. Lots of greenery. Yeah, I think the North would be more attractive to people, especially with global warming.

But I guess then if that's the case, why wouldn't you just go to the true north? Canada is the true north. Come to Canada, eh!? 


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