Minnesota History Magazine Fall 2022 (68:3)
Preserving Minnesota’s Wild Rice: The Importance of Indigenous Knowledge
Jessica Milgroom and Don Wedll
In 1931, the Minnesota legislature approved a statute that would definitively shape the history, landscape, and cultural heritage of the state by prohibiting the use of motorized boats and mechanical harvesting machines in the harvest of wild rice. Recognizing the need to protect wild rice as a food source for the Ojibwe, legislators declared a state of emergency in 1939 and passed a series of laws that reflected traditional Ojibwe management practices. This article shows the vital contribution of traditional knowledge to the preservation of wild rice in Minnesota, the difficulty of translating sustainable practices into law, and how laws are not enough to protect this heritage grain.
Rudy Returns and Minnesota Pivots: The 1982 Election for Minnesota’s Governor
Benjamin M. Schierer
Rudy Perpich’s 1982 gubernatorial campaign signaled a remarkable political comeback and a turning point in Minnesota politics. Following his loss of the governorship during the so-called Minnesota Massacre of 1978, Perpich’s return to politics four years later seemed a long shot. He would go on to become the longest-serving governor in the state’s history, with a track record of supporting women’s rights and civil rights that has had a lasting positive impact on the state. Building on months of research in conjunction with the Iron Range Research Center in Chisholm, Schierer examines the man and his methods on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Perpich’s election victory.
“I Thought I Would Wright You a Few Lines”: Solomon G. Comstock and Civil War Veteran Pensions
At the beginning of the US Civil War, the federal government enacted laws to grant pensions to soldiers who were disabled due to injury or illness suffered during their war service. In the ensuing decades, Congress liberalized the laws to allow veterans to claim pensions if their injuries or illnesses led to disability after the war ended. Proving pension eligibility decades after the war was often difficult, however, and many veterans wrote to their congressmen for assistance. As US Representative for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District from 1889 to 1891, Solomon G. Comstock received letters from 219 veterans and widows seeking assistance. Their letters illuminate struggles with poverty and the challenges of navigating the Pension Bureau’s complicated bureaucracy.
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