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Minnesota State Symbols—Unofficial, Proposed, or Facetious

Information relating to unofficial, proposed, or facetious Minnesota state symbols. Additional information is found in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

See also a separate list of official symbols.

frog

Amphibian

The Northern leopard frog was proposed as the Minnesota state amphibian by in 1999 (HF737) and in 1998 (HF3471/SF3103).

Tilt-A-Whirl

Amusement Ride

The Tilt-A-Whirl was proposed as the State Amusement Ride in 2007 (HF2354/SF2141). A State Fair poll question at the House booth in 2007 asked, "Invented in Faribault in 1926, should the Tilt-A-Whirl be designated the State Amusement Ride?" 47.3% said yes, 21.5% responded no, and 31.2% were undecided.

White-tailed deer

Animal/Mammal

Legislation has been offered to designate the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) as the state animal at least eight times. The Eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus) has been proposed at least six times as the official Minnesota animal or mammal.


White-Tailed Deer

  • 1989 - HF573/SF152, SF41
  • 1988 - HF2107/SF1623
  • 1987 - HF982/SF179
  • 1987 - SF1602
  • 1985 - SF1426
  • 1977 - HF749
  • 1973 - HF142/SF291
  • 1971 - SF250

Eastern Timber Wolf

  • 2000 - HF3508/SF3648
  • 1989 - SF288
  • 1987 - HF1663/SF1039
  • 1985 - SF1316
  • 1973 - SF340
  • 1969 - SF104

A bill to designate the black bear as the official state mammal was introduced in 2012 (HF2144/SF1905), and in 2011 (HF1657/SF1376).

In addition, amendments have been introduced to designate the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Citellus tridecemlineatus) as the state animal/mammal instead of the white-tailed deer. Such amendments were introduced in 1977 (attempt to amend HF 749 on page 1242 of the 1977 Journal of the House) and in 1973 (attempt to amend HF142 on page 290 of the 1973-1974 Journal of the House).

In 2000, Minnesota schoolchildren voted on whether the state mammal should be the wolf, the white-tailed deer or the gopher. The wolf received 208 votes; the deer got 129 votes and the gopher got 80.

A newspaper clipping from 1973 documents a citizen proposal to designate the wood tick as the official state animal. “If it were … since the loon is already the official state bird, we’d be the loon-and-tick state …” (St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 18, 1973, page 4).

glass of beer

Beer

Competing bills proposed the designation of a state beer in 1987. HF288/SF303 proposed Schell’s Deer Brand beer, while HF671 suggested Cold Spring beer.

book cover

Book

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie was proposed as the Minnesota state book in 1990 (HF2663). Laura Ingalls Wilder's book On the Banks of Plum Creek was proposed as the state book in 1992 (HF1708/SF1592).

red licorice

Candy

Licorice was proposed as the official candy of Minnesota in 1997 (HF144).

Minnesota quarter

Coin

For a ten-year period from 1999 through 2008, the United States Mint commemorated each state by releasing a quarter honoring each state. Minnesota's quarter was released in 2005. The Minnesota coin design was selected by the members of the Minnesota State Quarter Commission.

Honor and Remember Flag

Flag

Bills were introduced in 2013 (HF68/SF208 and HF1465/SF1278) to designate the "Honor and Remember Flag" as an official symbol of the state's commitment to military service members who have lost their lives in service to our country.

People square dancing

Folk Dance

The square dance was proposed as the state folk dance in 1994 (HF2089/SF1699) and in 1992 (HF2251/SF2013)

giant beaver skull fossil

Fossil

Legislation was introduced in 1988 (SF1701/HF2653) which would have designated the Giant Beaver (Castoroides ohioensis) as the Minnesota state fossil.

Legislators suggested that the rynchotrema, the trilobite and the bison should all be considered as the state fossil in 1988, but legislation was not introduced.

mosquito

Insect

Clippings suggest a variety of insects as the state insect; however, no legislation has been introduced. Among the suggestions are the mosquito, the wood tick, the no-see-um and the corn borer.

iron ore

Mineral

Iron ore was proposed as the official Minnesota state mineral in 1990 (HF2716).

Gopher cartoon by R.O. Sweeney from 1857

Nickname/Slogan

Three nicknames are used to refer to the state of Minnesota: The Gopher State; Land of 10,000 Lakes; and the North Star State.

In February 1858, the new Minnesota Legislature introduced the “Five Million Loan” bill. The purpose of the bill was to provide money to build railroads in the state. A highly controversial proposal, the bill ultimately passed. During the public debate, a cartoon was circulated depicting the railroad tycoons as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. Minnesota’s nickname “ the gopher state” came from this 1857 cartoon. A full description of the Five Million Loan may be found in William Watts Folwell, A History of Minnesota, Volume II (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1961), pages 37-58. In fact, the nickname refers to the “striped gopher” which is not actually a gopher, but is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

Minnesota is called the “land of 10,000 lakes” despite the fact that there are 11,842 lakes larger than 10 acres in size in the state. The legend of Paul Bunyan gives Paul and Babe the Blue Ox credit for creating the lakes with their footprints. In reality, Minnesota’s many lakes were created by the filling of depressions in the Minnesota landscape when four large glacier systems melted. Read more about it: House Information, Minnesota State Government Series: State Profile.

An official state slogan was proposed in 1959 (HF437), “your vacation and convention dollar goes further in Minnesota.” The bill was amended to add, following the word Minnesota, the phrase “-No Sales Tax!”.

leech

Parasite

In 1977, during debate on a bill giving leeches the same status of minnows in law (HF970), Senator Jack Davies considered offering an amendment proposing the leech as the Minnesota state parasite. According to a news account, he was poking a jab at the recent heated debate over whether the gopher or white-tailed deer should be the state mammal.

bagpipes

Pipe Band

The Minnesota State Fire Service Memorial Pipe Band was proposed as the official pipe band of the state of Minnesota in 2012 (HF1517).

blue Minnesota state map

Poem

A bill to designate "Minnesota Blue" as the state poem was introduced in 2008 by Rep. Bruce Anderson (HF3209) and Sen. Amy Koch (SF3209). Another bill was introduced by Sen. Bruce Anderson (SF405) in 2013. It was written by Codell Keith Haugen in 1985.

Blanding's turtle in grass

Reptile

The Blanding's turtle was proposed as the Minnesota state amphibian in 1999 (HF737) and in 1998 HF3471/SF3103.

wild rice soup in blue bowl

Soup

Wild rice soup was proposed as the official state soup in 1998 (SF3419).

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155