Norway: it's good enough for us

To understand Minnesota, it helps to look at Norway. Just not right in the eye.

By Kim Ode

Star Tribune

OSLO – Dig into Norway’s character and much about Scandinavian Minnesota starts to make sense.

Take our much-noted Norwegian reserve. The fleeting glance traded among walkers around Lake Harriet may seem brusque, but it’s practically akin to undressing each other compared with the deliberate downward glance encountered on the streets of Oslo. The effect there is reticence recast as a power play: I’ll be the judge of whether to acknowledge your presence.

The links between Norway and Minnesota are born of generations. “You can’t swing a cat without hitting someone with family in Minnesota,” said Paul Kirby, artistic coordinator of the Oslo Opera House. No kidding. Almost 20 percent of Minnesotans still identify themselves as Norwegian, and we have more residents of Norse ancestry than any other state.

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