How The Environment Has Shaped the State

From Sustenance to Leisure on Minnesota Land

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Michael J. Lansing, published in Environmental History as well as Ethics, Place, and Environment, highlights the many ways people have made use of Minnesota's flora and fauna over time and reviews the state's more recent efforts at conservation.

Wendt Island

Wendt Island

Wendt Island, with Jun Fujita’s cabin visible at left, 1938. Collection of Graham and Pamela Lee. Used with permission.

View of Rainy Lake from inside Jun Fujita’s cabin

View of Rainy Lake from inside Jun Fujita’s cabin

A view of Rainy Lake from inside Jun Fujita’s cabin, ca. 1930s. Collection of Graham and Pamela Lee. Used with permission.

Rainy Lake photographed by Jun Fujita

Rainy Lake photographed by Jun Fujita

Rainy Lake photographed by Jun Fujita, 1931. Collection of Graham and Pamela Lee. Used with permission.

Jun Fujita boating on Rainy Lake

Jun Fujita boating on Rainy Lake

Jun Fujita boating on Rainy Lake. Photograph by Wayne Carr, ca. 1931. Collection of Graham and Pamela Lee. Used with permission.

Jun Fujita and friends at Rainy Lake

Jun Fujita and friends at Rainy Lake

Jun Fujita (second from right) and friends at Rainy Lake, ca. 1920. Collection of Graham and Pamela Lee. Used with permission.

Dakota Elder Joe Williams Relates a Traditional Story, Nape

Dakota Elder Joe Williams (Sisseton Wahpeton) relates a traditional story, nape, or handprint, and its meaning to Native people. The Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site is arguably one of the most significant historic and cultural sites of its kind in the world. Its continued use over 9,000 years attests to its importance in traditional Indigenous cultures.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

One of Minnesota’s most popular nature areas, Gooseberry Falls was the first of eight state parks developed along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Nearly all of its buildings were constructed by employees of the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1934 and 1941. The collection of stone and log structures presents a distinctively North Shore interpretation of the National Park Service’s Rustic Style of architecture, complementing the park’s river, waterfalls, woodlands, and lakeshore.

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center in Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photograph by Wikimedia Commons user Jonathunder, November 15, 2021. CC BY-SA 2.0

Water tower

Water tower

Water tower inside Gooseberry Falls State Park, constructed on the highest point of the picnic area to provide water for visitors. The granite and masonry exterior was built around a 10,000-gallon water tank. Photograph by Noah Barton, 2021. Used with the permission of Noah Barton.

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