Minnesota State Study

MinnesotaStart off this Minnesota state study with a quick run down of Minnesota history, then color a map, and learn some facts.

Brief History of Minnesota

The known history of Minnesota begins with the Hopewell people (there were earlier people, but we know nothing of them).  Next, we move into the middle ages and the Mississippian culture influence over the area.  The Dakota tribes who next inhabited Minnesota may be descended from these medieval people (again, we don’t really know, just a lot of archaeological speculation).

French Canadian explorers entered the area in the 1600’s, with the purpose of trading for furs with the Dakota.  The North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company competed over the fur trade from the late 1700’s until the middle of the 1800’s.  After the Revolutionary War the British retained Canada and most of present day Minnesota, including the Red River Valley.  In 1803 most of the state was purchased in the Louisiana purchase.  In 1818, the border west of the Great Lakes between Canada and the U.S. was set by treaty at the 49th parallel.  In 1823, the Red River Valley was surveyed and found to be in the United States.

This is Palisade Head in the foreground with Shovel Point in the middle distance. The view is of the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Photo in the public domain.

U.S. military forts were established and settlers began to move in to farm the land after a 1851 treaty with the tribes in the area.  Most of the large cities of Minnesota began as military forts.  In 1858 Minnesota became a state, but not before some drama.  These were the years just prior to the Civil War and talk about a divided country!  The Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota met separately and drew up two distinct constitutions for the newly proposed state.  They were so miffed with each other that they couldn’t even be in the same room.  Finally, after much haggling and belly aching and whining, they agreed to a common constitution for the state, but even then they couldn’t bear to have their signatures on the same piece of paper so the Republicans signed one copy and the Democrats signed another.  See, today’s politicians aren’t so bad . . . yet.

This is Phelps Mill. It was built in 1889 and milled flour for local people. Today it is a historic site. Photo by Elizabeth A. Armour, CC license, Wikimedia.

Today industrial level agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing are what drive the Minnesota economy.  Minnesota moved from a small family farm base to an urban base after World War II.

This is downtown Minneapolis. Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri, CC license, Wikimedia.


  • Find Minnesota on a United States map.  Give hints to get the kids going in the right direction.  It’s next to the Great Lakes.  It’s east of the Dakotas.  It borders with Canada. . .
  • While they color a map of Minnesota (below) give the kids a run down on the state history and some fun facts.
  • Read a book about Minnesota for more info.
  • Do one of the Additional Layers below and then have each kid present their layer on a poster or in a report.
  • Color this Minnesota Map.

Fabulous Facts

  • Mall of America in Bloomington beats all other malls into the ground with 9.5 million square feet of space.
  • St. Paul’s first name was Pig’s Eye.  People used to have so much more fun . . .
  • Big Dog businesses from Minnesota include: 3M, Mayo Clinic, Green Giant, Hormel, Mars Candy, Tonka, Greyhound Bus Company, and Polaris.
  • Minnesota inventions: stapler, Better Business Bureau, water skis, the expression: “Holy Cow!”, children’s sections of libraries, pop up toasters, heart transplant surgery, Rollerblades, Spam, super computers, snowmobiles, and bone marrow transplants.
  • World’s Largest Twine Ball is in Darwin.  {Only in America, baby. Only in America.}
  • There are 201 lakes named “Mud Lake” in Minnesota.

Additional Layers

  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder is set in Minnesota.  Read it.
  • Learn more about one of the big businesses based in Minnesota.  What do they produce?  How did they get their start?  Why did they become famous all over the nation?  What would it take to go work for one of them?
  • Make up a new name for your town.  Make it really fun, like Pig’s Eye.  Can you find out where the name Pig’s Eye came from?  Now go quiz your friends on your fabulous new fact.
  • Hockey is really big in Minnesota . . . REALLY BIG!  Learn more about the game and play a game of field hockey, street hockey (on roller blades) or play on the ice.
  • Why were the people so divided before the Civil War?  What were they fighting about and why did that affect Minnesota?
  • Minnesota is absolutely riddled with lakes.  What about its geological past made so many lakes?

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