For too long Minnesotans have remained ignorant of their neighbors to the west. There seems to be something about North Dakota and South Dakota — two singular, separate states — that North Star State hot food fanatics just don’t understand. obtain.
Those who come from these states have a certain sympathy.
The battle for supremacy between South Dakotans and North Dakotans has been long, bitter, and well-documented. President Benjamin Harrison resigned these states to eternal feuds in 1889, when he allegedly mixed up the papers when signing them in the Union, making it impossible to know which state was first.
Because no state can claim seniority, the battle continues – these days in the form of lists of why we’re better at travel blogs and wandering kuchen recipes. But there is one thing that brings residents of both states closer together – being attacked by an outside enemy: namely the people of Minnesota.
Star Tribune features columnist James Lileks (from Fargo, which is North Dakota) and intern Jasmine Snow (from Huron, which is South Dakota) explain how their respective states are distinct, unique — and better than the ‘other.
JL: When I first met Jasmine, I was dismayed to find that this charming, intelligent and talented person had just South Dakota – because it meant we had to be mortal enemies. But then the boss, a Minnesotan, said, “Hey, South Dakota, North Dakota, what’s the difference?”
That’s when Jasmine and I instantly bonded as Dakotans Against an Unthinking World, meaning Minnesotans, of course.
They just don’t understand us, do they?
JS: Obviously not. They call our two states “the Dakotas,” as if we were a monolithic Midwestern land mass full of bison. Yeah, bison, you loon lovers. Not buffaloes.
JL: And what kind of people do they think we are the Dakotans?
JS: I think there is a sense of elitism among Minnesotans.
Lileks and Snow wonder aloud if this elitism is just an act, if perhaps Minnesotans actually harbor envy for the two states on its western border.
Of course, Lileks and Snow admit that residents of North Dakota and South Dakota may seem more road-weary and perhaps not as social as residents of their neighboring state. This is probably because there are about 60 miles between towns – and a “town” can mean a VFW, a gas/grocery station, two churches and four cars. Still, they agree that Dakotans come from an extremely hardy stock. People in any other state would naturally be jealous.
JS: But Minnesotans should know that South Dakota rules.
JL: Wait a minute. We have a national park in North Dakota. Lawrence Welk, Peggy Lee – all ours.
JS: Yeah? Well, South Dakota has six national parks. (OK, some are monuments and memorials.) We also claim Laura Ingalls Wilder and Hubert Humphrey. (I know Minnesotans love to claim him, but he was ours first.)
J.L.: Well, you can have HHH and the girls in the butter-churning gingham dresses. North Dakota has Teddy Roosevelt – the man and the national park.
JS: So? South Dakota is also home to the Crazy Horse Memorial and the Mammoth Site Museum. Our state is also where Sturgis performs.
JL: “Sturgis is coming.” I think I saw that sticker, right?
JS: Yeah. It’s also on a banner.
JL: North Dakota is also superior to the South because we are one of the major energy producing states. Of course, that means we go through boom and bust cycles. When there’s a boom, it can become a kind of Wild West – much like Deadwood once was. You’ve been to Deadwood, haven’t you? I mean, it’s in your state.
JS: I think so?
JL: But surely you have been to Mount Rushmore.
JS: Uh, I’ve never seen it. Guess that makes me a failed South Dakota. Like a New Yorker who hasn’t seen the Statue of Liberty.
JL: Well, have you been to any of North Dakota’s mostly cool cities, including Fargo and Grand Forks? Each of these towns has a little sidekick on the Minnesota side. No disrespect to Moorhead and East Grand Forks.
JS: So maybe we don’t have a cool quotient in South Dakota, but we do have something better: World’s Largest Pheasant, Corn Palace, and Wall Drug. Besides, who needs cities when you have the badlands!
J.L.: Ha! U.S. too! The badlands of North Dakota are even poorer than yours. We have fewer colors and more valleys.
JS: Bad-er lands, you might say.
JL: Well, I always say, if you want to have badlands, make them bad.
JS: So were they empirically dangerous and heavy?
JL: Precisely. In fact, I think “Empirically Dangerous and Fraught” is the official slogan for the North Dakota badlands.
JS: I’m sure it’s also on a banner.
Despite growing urbanization in both states (yes, there are cities with populations over 10,000 in both states), James and Jasmine agreed that never being more than 15 minutes from nature is unbeatable. Both Dakotas offer impossibly vast skies, seemingly endless meadows and prairies – and an inability to be understood by strangers.
And with that, they called the battle to be the best a draw. Even better, they found common ground with the Minnesotans: by agreeing that our three states are all much better than Wisconsin.
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