Minnesota became the 32nd state to join the Union on May 11, 1858. Its nicknames are “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (it actually has more than 11,800), “North Star State,” and “Gopher State.” It got its name from the Dakota words meaning “sky-tinted water” because of the state’s blue skies that reflect on the lakes.
Like other lands in America, Minnesota was first home to indigenous tribes. The largest in the area was the Dakota Sioux, and others were the Cheyenne, Cree, and Ojibwa. Europeans started arriving in the 1600s. The French were the first to explore the area, mapping out the coast of Lake Superior and claiming the land for France. In 1671, they agreed to trade furs with the Ojibwa.
The French and Native Americans worked this way for decades as settlers traveled to the area to make a new life. In the 1700s, war broke out between the British and French. When the British won in 1763, they took over the eastern part of the territory. Twenty years later, the Americans won the Revolutionary War and took the British land. In 1803 the U.S. bought the rest of the state from France in the Louisiana Purchase.
President Thomas Jefferson sent explorers to learn more about the new territory and to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Zebulon Pike was the first to try in 1805 but he never found it. Almost thirty years later, in 1832, Henry Schoolcraft found the source of the river with help from the Ojibwa tribe.
Two cities were built on each side of the Mississippi River: The one on the west side became Minneapolis, and the city on the east became St. Paul. These are known today as the Twin Cities.