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Minnesota State Symbols—Unofficial, Proposed, or Facetious
Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Official Minnesota state symbols are designated by law, and some proposed symbols have not yet made it into law. This page compiles unofficial, proposed, or facetious Minnesota state symbols. The Legislative Reference Library also has a list of official symbols. These online lists are supplemented with notebooks of additional news clippings and other materials in the Library.
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.
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.
- 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 2011 (HF1657/SF1376) and in 2012 (HF2144/SF1905).
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 1973 (attempt to amend HF142 on page 290 of the 1973-1974 Journal of the House) and in 1977 (attempt to amend HF 749 on page 1242 of the 1977 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).
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.
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).
Licorice was proposed as the official candy of Minnesota in 1997 (HF144).
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.
In response to the death of Minnesota native Prince Rogers Nelson on April 21, 2016, Sen. Karin Housley introduced Senate File 3595 which would have designated purple as the official color of the state of Minnesota.
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.
The square dance was proposed as the state folk dance in 1992 (HF2251/SF2013) and in 1994 (HF2089/SF1699).
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.
A bill introduced in 2018 (SF3048/HF3383) would designate Dan Patch as Minnesota's state horse. Born in 1896, Dan Patch was bred to be a racehorse. After some doubt as to his ability to live up to that expectation, he became a remarkably fast horse, competing as a pacer (pulling a driver in a wagon), and never losing a final race in his career. In 1906 he set a world record, pacing one mile in one minute and fifty-five seconds. He died in 1916.
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 was proposed as the official Minnesota state mineral in 1990 (HF2716).
Three nicknames are commonly used to refer to the state of Minnesota: The Gopher State; Land of 10,000 Lakes; and the North Star State. "L'etoile du Nord" (translated "star of the north") is Minnesota's official state motto.
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!”.
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.
Wild rice soup was proposed as the official state soup in 1998 (SF3419).