Anyone from Minnesota???

I’ve always wondered…

Why is there a small area of northern Minnesota that sticks up into Canada?

Sue from El Paso

It’s mostly water (lake of the Woods) with the Red Lake Indian reservation at the top. Not sure why we got it vs. Canada, but I do know it’s the northernmost point in the continental U.S.

Short answer: someone goofed.

I don’t know who or when, but when deciding on the US boundary, we ended up with just a bit more than was intended.

“Age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” -Leroy “Satchel” Paige

The part of Minnesota you are referring to is the Northwest Angle.
In 1783, after the US was negotiating a treaty with Great Britain after the end of the Revolution, the British decided to give the US an area which was supposed to include the source of the Mississippi River.
Back then, geographers told people that the Mississippi started way up north.

As it turned out, the source of the Mississippi was much further south at Lake Itasca. American explorers didn’t get there until the early 19th century.

By that time, it was a little late to go back and change everything around on the maps. This kept the fine residents of Bemidji from living in Manitoba.

Yehbut, Bemidji is nowhere near that little (big) piece sticking up like a poke in the tender underbelly of Canada - did they wangle that, too, with the Mississippi crapola?

I suspect it has something to do with that Indian reservation.


The Red Lake Reservation is located in the northern Minnesota counties of Beltrami and Clearwater, approximately 27 miles north of Bemidji. Tribal headquarters are in Red Lake, Minnesota.

Land Status
Unique among the Ojibwe reservations, Red Lake never ceded land by treaty to the U.S. and is not part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The Red Lake Band was the first group to organize in Minnesota under a written constitution in 1918 when a General Council was established as the governing body. Unlike the other Chippewa bands, the Red Lake Band did not accept the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Red Lake is a closed reservation and, therefore, was not open to homestead entries and the land has not been allotted to individual Indians. All land is held in common by the members of the Band.

The tribe resides on 636,954 acres of aboriginal land. The band owns scattered tracts of land extending up to the Canadian border including most of the Northwest Angle. It amounts to an additional 156,690 acres for a total of 825,654 acres, larger than the state of Rhode Island. All land is held communally by the Red Lake Band. Red Lake is America’s largest fresh water lake wholly contained within one state.

Tribal enrollment is about 8,300 members, and approximately 5,000 member live on the reservation.

Bemidji isn’t in the Northwest Angle, but if the treaty had been drawn correctly in 1783 so the United States would have had its border end at the source of the Mississippi, then Bemidji (and International Falls for that matter) would be in Manitoba.
Sorry to confuse the issue.

I just like to say Bemidji.


“My hovercraft is full of eels.”