Alternative History
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This describes a state of the USA in the western part of the former state. The article Minnesota is an overview of the entire region.
Minnesota
State of Minnesota
— State of the United States
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: West-Central Minnesota
Flag of Minnesota Coat of Arms of Minnesota
Flag Coat of Arms
Location of Minnesota
Minnesota - 15
Motto
L'Etoile du Nord (French)
("The Star of the North")
Capital
(and largest city)
Moorehead
Other Cities Detroit Lakes, Ferguson Falls, Marshall, Morris
Language None (Official), English (De facto) and others
Demonym Minnesotan
Legislature Minnesota Territorial Legislature
Governor Paul Marquart (DFL)
Lieutenant Governor Ben Lien (DFL)
Area 13,349 sq mi
Population 181,427 (2020 Census)
Established August 1, 2021
Admission January 31, 2022
Currency Buffalo Dollar
Abbreviations MN

While a number of communities have grown up within the former borders of Minnesota, it was only in the late 2010s that plans began to form for a reconstituted State of Minnesota within the expanding United States of America. The towns and villages of the state are economically dependent on Fargo, the largest city in the U.S. state of Dakota. Moorhead, just across the Red River from Fargo, was long considered part of Dakota's territory, and the eastern limit of its zone of influence has never been well defined. As the communities on the Minnesota side of the river grew, a movement to restore the former state gained momentum. A provisional government was seated in 2021 under the name Minnesota Territory. Statehood commenced in early 2022 following elections and a new responsible government.

History

War and aftermath

The events of Doomsday did not cause much physical damage in most of Minnesota, but they triggered widespread social and political collapse in the state. The Twin Cities, Minnesota's political, economic, and population hub, suffered the worst by far. A Soviet missile followed by meltdowns in two nuclear power plants left the region uninhabitable. Waves of survivors spread out in all directions, straining the resources and infrastructure of all surrounding communities. Most of Minnesota was in a state of anarchy by the mid-1980s. Individual counties continued to function in some places, but public services of every kind shut down as almost every part of the state shifted to a subsistence economy.

The population became highly mobile as people searched for safety and subsistence. In this mobility began the close connection between western Minnesota and Dakota. Sioux Falls and Fargo, Dakotan towns on the Minnesotan border, emerged as some of the largest stable settlements in the region. De facto they began to serve as the capitals of small city-states, centers of political, judicial and economic life, while staying formally united under the loose leadership of the Provisional Government of the Dakotas. These relatively stable communities drew many survivors from across the state, and many Minnesotans found themselves relocating to zones around these towns. Others adopted more nomadic lifestyles, moving between the towns and less settled areas further east.

Over the following years, more people from western Minnesota migrated to Dakota, while others from further east settled near the border. A relatively dense network of farming villages grew up clustered around Fargo and Moorhead.

Organizing the territory

Clay County, which includes Moorhead, formally became part of Dakota in 2001. Clay's borders had already been extended by an earlier merger with Becker County, though as stated organized government was tenuous in Becker's eastern reaches; the county's control really extended only a bit past the town of Detroit Lakes.

In subsequent years, Dakota annexed or created a number of additional counties on the Minnesota side of the border, setting up a north-south column of local governments just over the state line. Slowly but steadily, the state was expanding.

State of Dakota

Dakota was admitted to the USA in 2012, and its Minnesotan communities joined along with it. Statehood brought enormous changes to the region, above all a huge new market for the products of its farms. In the 2010s, rail service for passengers and freight was restored between Minnesota and Dakota and parts further west. This allowed Minnesotan crops to reach other states, and industrial products, both domestic and imported from Mexico, to reach Minnesota in ever-increasing amounts.

Self-government and statehood

A growing economy and stabilizing society raised the question of restoring Minnesota as a political entity. At the onset of statehood, most people were probably content to remain part of Dakota. Attitudes began to shift as the towns and villages grew, and especially as people continued to migrate from other parts of Minnesota.

Federal authorities were enthusiastic about the prospect of a restored Minnesota. Each of the prewar states was another sign of continuity with the old USA, so statehood would be a sign that the cause of restoration was marching on.

Clay County held an advisory referendum on the question in 2015 that showed strong support for a separate statehood. It was never possible to follow this up with a single, binding referendum over the whole region, but several individual counties held their own votes in the next year, while smaller communities held caucuses or passed resolutions in favor. By 2019, momentum was building. State representatives from the area were calling for their colleagues to pass a bill to carve off Minnesota as a separate state from Dakota.

The bill in Dakota's legislature created the provisional government that now is governing Minnesota. It has the designation of "Territory" to represent the aspiration to statehood: it is not a federally-governed territory of the kind that was common in the nineteenth-century USA. Dakota's government appointed officials to fill the posts of the provisional government; so far no election has taken place.

Representative Sonia Carlson of Dakota, whose district comprised the Minnesota settlements, now introduced a bill of statehood to the federal Congress to confirm the decision by the Dakota Legislative Assembly. The bill passed and received the president's signature in July 2021, but it delayed Minnesota's actual admission to the end of January of the following year, which would allow the territory to elect a new state government and delegation to Congress.

Geography

Territory

The core territory of the state is about a dozen counties centered on Moorhead and the Red River of the North. A chain of lakes and a ridge of rugged land, extending through Becker, Otter Tail, Douglas, and Pope Counties, act as a natural barrier to the east, where a mostly agricultural landscape gives way to more forest and wilderness. To the south, the new state will extend as far as Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine Counties at the mouth of the Minnesota River. The far southwest corner of the former state, near the city of Sioux Falls, Dakota, is not included in the planned borders of Minnesota, though it may be transferred someday in the future.

Beyond this core lies a large hinterland, not yet organized into counties, in which there are many hamlets affiliated with the government to varying degrees. The government's influence, but not its direct control, extends down the valley of the Minnesota River almost to the Twin Cities Exclusion Zone. Mankato, on the great bend of the river, has grown into an important trading town, for now independent but housing an outpost of the state government.

Adjacent States and Nations

Economy

Western Minnesota is a productive agricultural land. It is once again an exporter of food. Both the people of the North Woods, and the settlements in the drier western states of the USA, depend on the corn, wheat, potatoes, and other crops grown within the territory. Minnesotan and Dakotan sugarbeets are the main source of sweetener throughout the interior of North America.

Lines of the old Great Northern Railway still crisscross the state and have been restored as a major trade route heading west. To the east, US Highway 10 is the main trail into the forest settlements; further east it connects to the zigzag route to the lakeshore villages along Superior, avoiding the exclusion zone around Duluth. Highway 71 goes northeast to International Falls. The Red River of the North is an even busier route, linking the United States with the Canadian splinter nation of Assiniboia. And to the south, the Minnesota River links the state with the small but growing communities of southern Minnesota.

Government

A provisional government was set up in Moorhead in July 2021 that mostly adhered to historic American models. Minnesota now has distinct executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Until the start of statehood January 31, 2022, they remained under the supervision of Dakota.

The act setting up Minnesota as a state provides the framework for a new elected government, but it still lacks a proper constitution. A convention to write one is expected to be called at some point during 2022.

Around twelve county governments are currently functioning. Some of these are surviving prewar county governments, while others are of more recent creation.

Culture

The region covered by the state sits in the heart of the cultural region of the Upper Midwest: Lutheran descendants of immigrants from Nordic countries living in small settlements scattered across the prairie. Even the massive population churn of the 80s and 90s did not change the essence of its character.

Ice hockey is the all-important sport in Minnesota. Club teams from several towns compete against rivals from Dakota. Professional hockey has not re-emerged in the US, but if it does, it will likely begin here. Cross-country skiing and biathlon have caught on as well, since besides their recreational value they have important military applications and are part of the drills for local militias.

Relations with nearby states

The growth of the Minnesota settlements has represented a major eastward push by the United States, and a new state will bring its zone of influence very close to two strategically vital waterways: the Mississippi and the Great Lakes. In the Lakes especially, where a constellation of states proud of their independence took shape in the early 2000s, the rise of Minnesota is forcing politicians to confront the question of Union with new urgency. Before, politicians in the lakeshore republics could postpone the question due to the distance between them and the new states of the Union. Minnesota's existence makes this equivocation much more difficult.

Neither the United States, nor Dakota, nor the emerging state government have made any explicit claims about Minnesota's territorial extent. Most people expect to someday incorporate the bulk of the former state, but of course not all the people living in the unclaimed lands are in favor of Union - and parts of it have been incorporated into Superior.

The less-settled parts of Minnesota beyond the government's direct control can still be dangerous. Raids along the frontier are not unheard-of, and citizens in outlying areas are accustomed to organizing punitive expeditions from time to time. Violence is hardly the norm, but it is a fact of life that threatens relations between the state and the hinterland.

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