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In an article for the Minnesota Finns' commemorative album for the centennial of the state, E. A. Pulli wrote as follows: "History reminds us of a drama, for which geography has set the stage. The people of Minnesota have an especially fine stage and magnificent settings. The play is of great interest. It tells of men and women who lived here in the past and of those who are living here now. It tells of the struggles of the pioneers against Indians, nature, and other white men. It tells how the white man first came to this region, and how he slowly, a bit at a time, built it to what it is today. Some people believe that many customs and conditions of the past were better than those of today. Perhaps we can decide that better after we have acquainted ourselves with this historical drama that is Minnesota." The present volume will try to throw some light on the role that Finnish settlers, pioneers, and after them, tens of thousands of other Finns of Minnesota, have played in that drama.

Why Did They Choose Minnesota?

In 1918 Eugene van Cleef conducted a series of interviews with 60 Finnish residents of Minnesota to find out why they had chosen to come there specifically. The persons interviewed were chosen on a basis where they could speak for about 1,500 Finns. With ten exceptions, all gave as their reason some geographical factor. The similarity of climate was one of the first things mentioned by almost all; the rest had come because letters from friends urged them to, and of these all except two stated that once they had come the climate had made them stay. The supervisor of agricultural courses in the St. Louis County schools stated that, because of climate factors, the Finns were stubbornly and in increasing numbers moving to the state's more barren northern region, although there were much better lands to the south and in other states. Because of this trend, a responsible county official doubted the ability of the Finns to evaluate the kind of land they were choosing. Many stressed, however, their longing for a snow-covered nature, where smooth ice-covered stretches of lake could be glimpsed through pine and spruce. Those who had had an opportunity to see the United States rather extensively were convinced that nowhere else in the country but Minnesota did nature remind them so much of Finland. 15 Other scholars, too, among them Ilmonen 16 and Arne Halonen, have

15. van Cleef, Eugene. The Finn in America. Reproduced by Permission of the American Geographical Society of New York. Duluth, 1918. pp 20-21.

16. Ilmonen, Salomon. Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia III. Hancock, Mich., 1926. p. 164.


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