Norwegian Minnesotan

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Norwegian Minnesotan
Total population
16.5% of the Minnesotan population
Regions with significant populations
Minneapolis 42,469[2][3]
Saint Paul 25,537[2][4]
Rochester 15,038[2][5]
Duluth 13,919[2][6]
Moorhead 13,712[2][7]
Bloomington 13,214[2][8]
Plymouth 12,618[2][9]
Coon Rapids 11,163[2][10]
Maple Grove 11,038[2][11]
Eagan 10,128[2][12]
American English, Norwegian
Lutheran with Catholic and other Protestant minorities
Related ethnic groups
Norwegian American

A Norwegian Minnesotan is a Norwegian American (a person with Norwegian ancestry) in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of 2009, 868,361 Minnesotans claim Norwegian ancestry, 16.5% of Minnesota's population, or 18.7% of the total Norwegian American population.[1]



Many Norwegian settlers arrived and lived in various other locations in the United States before permanently settling in Minnesota.
Minneapolis has the largest concentration of Norwegians outside Norway, at 42,469.

Many Norwegian settlers arrived and lived in various other locations in the United States before permanently settling in Minnesota. The first Norwegian emigrants to come to the United States often settled in the eastern Mid-west. The first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota was Norwegian Ridge, in what is now Spring Grove, Minnesota. As more and more new immigrants came to America there was a rapid increase in population at the original Norwegian settlements (which was helped along by a high birth rate). Thus, as more and more Norwegian settlers arrived in America, the original Norwegian settlements would move westward where land was plentiful and less expensive and where new settlements could be created.

Norwegian settlement in Minnesota increased after the American Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, especially to the Minnesota River Valley, where land was taken through the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. Following the war, the majority of Dakota people were expelled from Minnesota and European settlement increased rapidly.

Because the land of Minnesota was subdued by force from the American Indians, land was cheap for the European immigrants who came here. Before long, the immigrant population exploded in Minnesota. Norwegians settled all over the state, but they established the first permanent settlements in the southeast. The first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota was Norwegian Ridge, in what is now Spring Grove, Minnesota, in Houston County, Minnesota. Another such settlement was the 1851 colony in Goodhue County, Minnesota. They soon settled in Fillmore County as well. By 1860, half of Minnesota's 12,000 Norwegians resided in Goodhue, Fillmore, and Houston Counties. Ten years later, these three counties were home to nearly 25,000 of Minnesota's 50,000 Norwegian residents. By 1880, there were Norwegian settlements in the counties of Goodhue County, Minnesota, Fillmore, Houston, Freeborn, Steele, and Waseca. Norwegians also made settlements in Blue Earth, Brown, and Watonwan Counties (the "Linden Settlement"), Lac qui Parle County, the Park Region in west-central Minnesota, and the prairies of southwestern Minnesota.

Immigrants also came to the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota, settling in the counties of Clay, Marshall, Norman, and Polk. During the early 1870s, the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad helped increase migration to the Red River Valley. As a result, by 1875 Norwegian immigrants made up a 30 percent of the total population of the counties of Polk and Clay. Later, immigrants also made homes in Grant, Pennington, Red Lake, Roseau, and Kittson Counties. Much of this land belonged to the Lakota and Nakota peoples.

Duluth was also a center for Norwegian immigration. Its location on Lake Superior provided those Norwegian fishermen with ample employment. As a result, the Norwegian population of Duluth increased dramatically between 1870 and 1900. In 1870, 242 Norwegians were counted in Duluth. By 1900 the population had reached 7,500 people of Norwegian ancestry.

By the middle of the 1880s, Norwegian migration to Minnesota began to shift to the cities. Most of these were single people who were accustomed to city life. Many also planned merely to make some money in America and then to return to Norway. There was a large influx of Norwegian immigrants into the city of Minneapolis from the 1880s to early 20th century, although they settled in St. Paul as well.


Of Minnesota's population in the year 2000 at 850,742 said that they have Norwegian ancestry. Of them 414,901 (48.8%) were male, and 435,841 (51.2%) were female. The median age was 36, in contrast to 35 for the whole Minnesotan population, 36.7 for the whole American population,[13] and 39.4 for Norway's population.[13]

Among Norwegians in Minnesota, 54,411 were younger than the age of 5 (or 6.9% of all those with Norwegian ancestry); of the whole Minnesotan population, 327,988 were younger than the age of 5 (or 6.6% of all Minnesotans). Among Norwegian Minnesotans, 65,039 were between 5 and 17 years of age (or 7.6% of all those with Norwegian ancestry), compared to 365,136 between 5 and 17 for the whole Minnesotan population (or 7.4% of all Minnesotans). Among the group, 628,343 were between 18 and 64 (or 73.8% of all Norwegian Minnesotans), compared to 3,632,940 between 18 and 64 for the whole Minnesotan population (or 73.8% of all Minnesotans). Among the group, 102,949 were older than 65 (or 12.1% of all those with Norwegian ancestry), compared to 593,415 older than 65 for the whole Minnesota population (or 12.0% of all Minnesotans).

The household population number 835,511, when the group quarters population number 15,231. The average household size is 2, when the average family size is 3. Occupied housing units number 335,537; of them, owner-occupied housing units number 263,911 and renter-occupied housing units number 71,626.

550,208 are 25 years, or over. Of them, 503,360 are high school graduate or higher, and 156,568 bachelor's degree or higher. 82,959 is civilian veterans (civilian population 18 years and over). 105,537 has disability status (population 5 years and over). 2,034 are foreign born. 191,907 is male, now married, except separated (population 15 years and over) and 197,012 is female, now married, except separated (population 15 years and over). Approximately 24,235 said they speak a language other than English at home (population 5 years and over).

479,191 are in labor force (population 16 years and over). Mean travel time to work in minutes (workers 16 years and over) is 21. Median household income in 1999 (dollars) were 48,441, while median family income in 1999 (dollars) were 57,893, per capita income in 1999 (dollars) were 23,443. Families below poverty level number 7,421, while individuals below poverty level number 43,935. Single-family owner-occupied homes number 207,799. Of them, median value (dollars) number 118,700, median of selected monthly owner costs is not applicable, with a mortgage (dollars) number 1,010, while not mortgaged (dollars) number 263.[14]

Year Norwegian Minnesotans[15] Minnesotans Percent of Minnesota's population Norwegian Americans Percent of Norwegian Americans
1980 712,258 4,075,970 19.1% 3,453,839 20.6%
1990 757,212 4,375,099 17.3% 3,869,395 19.5%
2000 850,742 4,919,479 17.3% 4,477,725 18.9%
2009 868,361 5,266,215 16.5% 4,642,526 18.7%

Norwegian communities in Minnesota[edit]

The 25 Minnesotan communities with the highest percentage of residents claiming Norwegian ancestry are:[16]

  1. Fertile, Minnesota 54.4%
  2. Spring Grove, Minnesota 52.0%
  3. Twin Valley, Minnesota 49.9%
  4. Rushford, Minnesota 46.5%
  5. Starbuck, Minnesota 45.0%
  6. Hawley, Minnesota 44.5%
  7. Ada, Minnesota 42.9%
  8. Dawson, Minnesota 42.2%
  9. Fosston, Minnesota 42.1%
  10. Bagley, Minnesota 41.0%
  11. Karlstad, Minnesota 39.4%
  12. Thief River Falls, Minnesota 39.0%
  13. Dane Prairie Township, Otter Tail County, Minnesota 39.0%
  14. Madison, Minnesota 38.8%
  15. Harmony, Minnesota 38.4%
  16. Sparta Township, Minnesota 38.1%
  17. Clarkfield, Minnesota 38.0%
  18. Wanamingo, Minnesota 38.0%
  19. Lake Park, Minnesota 37.2%
  20. Montevideo, Minnesota 35.9%
  21. Dunn Township, Minnesota 35.2%
  22. Cormorant Township, Minnesota 34.9%
  23. Oakport, Minnesota 34.3%
  24. Houston, Minnesota 34.1%
  25. Rocksbury Township, Minnesota 34.1%

Norwegian counties in Minnesota[edit]

The 25 Minnesotan counties with the highest percentage of residents claiming Norwegian ancestry are:[17]

  1. Norman County, Minnesota 58.9%
  2. Pennington County, Minnesota 50.6%
  3. Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota 47.9%
  4. Marshall County, Minnesota 46.9%
  5. Grant County, Minnesota 43.8%
  6. Polk County, Minnesota 43.3%
  7. Clearwater County, Minnesota 42.6%
  8. Roseau County, Minnesota 42.3%
  9. Clay County, Minnesota 42.2%
  10. Pope County, Minnesota 39.7%
  11. Chippewa County, Minnesota 39.4%
  12. Fillmore County, Minnesota 39.0%
  13. Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota 38.9%
  14. Freeborn County, Minnesota 37.1%
  15. Kittson County, Minnesota 35.4%
  16. Red Lake County, Minnesota 33.9%
  17. Houston County, Minnesota 33.4%
  18. Swift County, Minnesota 33.4%
  19. Otter Tail County, Minnesota 32.9%
  20. Wilkin County, Minnesota 32.2%
  21. Becker County, Minnesota 28.7%
  22. Dodge County, Minnesota 28.6%
  23. Kandiyohi County, Minnesota 28.6%
  24. Douglas County, Minnesota 27.1%
  25. Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota 27.0%

See also[edit]