Big in Minnesota

While we may lead the world in Super Bowl victories, the United States lags embarrassingly behind other countries when it comes to our giant statue situation. Our largest, the Statue of Liberty, ranks only 47th in the world! This isn’t to say that our great nation hasn’t got a wealth of big statues, however — here is only a sampling of what you can visit right here in Minnesota.

Devils Lake

Europeans have often taken a somewhat laid-back approach to construing natives’ names for places. When a couple of Iroquois youths casually gave Jacques Cartier directions in 1535, the boys could have little imagined that their word for village, “kanata,” would one day become the name of the second largest country on earth. Early Nebraskan settlers would have been sorely disappointed had they expected an abundance of red willows when they arrived at Red Willow Creek — the Dakota had named it “chanshasha wakpala” after the red dogwoods there, but someone bungled the translation. In that vein, the somewhat imposingly named Devils Lake in North Dakota had originally been called “mni wak’á? chante,” which roughly translates to “sacred water” in the Dakota language. It’s a shame the lake’s name got flipped on its end, as its original one suits it far better.

International Wolf Center

Wolves get a bad rap, but they receive it through no fault of their own. The wolves in Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs were both motivated only out of hunger, Wolf Blitzer was probably just coming out of a bad breakup when he scored negative $4,600 on Celebrity Jeopardy!, and Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full only seemed lackluster because it had to be compared to his earlier masterpiece Bonfire of the Vanities. In fact, wolves are lovely creatures deserving only of our admiration, protection, and beaver carcasses.

Surrender Salmon

Few places are quite so remote as Bristol Bay is. It is the easternmost arm of the Bering Sea that juts into Alaska, a state we picked up only after the Russians had deemed it too inhospitable to live in. The bay’s high tides, shallow depths, and countless shoals and narrows make navigating it by ship about as simple as leash training a frantic puppy on a minefield. What could possibly draw someone to so severe a place? For Grant Niver of Minneapolis, the answer is salmon.

Something Rotten!

Something Rotten! is coming to Bismarck! Conceived by the Kirkpatrick brothers in the 1990s and ripened in development until its Broadway premiere in 2015, the musical comedy tells the story of theatricians Nick and Nigel Bottom and their quest to get a leg up on some obscure literary figure named William Shakespeare. Something Rotten! plays with classical themes and pays homage to beloved productions like Les Misérables (a timeless epic about two innkeepers on a quest to recover their adopted daughter after she’d been absconded with by an ex-convict) and West Side Story (which teaches audiences that jazz tap provides a solid foundation for knife fighting techniques), but also reinvigorates them with modern twists and humor. The original production was nominated for ten Tony Awards, more than enough to merit its ongoing national tour.