Going to Minnesota

Less than a month now! Dear Aard readers Heather Flowers and Erin Emmerich of the University of Minnesota have invited me to speak there in April. My wife will accompany me and interpret whenever we run into someone who speaks only Mandarin.

Now, Dear Reader: can you offer me further Minnesota speaking gigs to help fund the trip? Pointers to Scandy associations that I should contact? I could speak about pretty much anything Scandy, not just archaeology. Heather has already given me an awesome contact list.

Update 13 March: I’m bumping this entry along month by month to gather more reader suggestions. Our schedule is taking shape:

  • Wed 6 April. Afternoon, touch down at MSP.
  • Thu 7 April. Afternoon, American Swedish Institute tour.
  • Thu 7 April. Late evening, bar get-together with the Minnesota Skeptics at the Duplex Bar.
  • Fri 8 April. Lunch, speak at Archaeology Consortium (U Minn archaeology grad students and faculty) on Bronze Age sacrificial sites.
  • Fri 8 April. Evening, gaming night with Ian Light and other members of the Anthro Club.
  • Sat 9 April. Speak at U Minn undergraduate anthropology conference on the Migration Period Scandy gold binge and its Merovingian Period hangover.
  • Sun 10 April. Morning, appear on Minnesota Atheists radio show with Greg Laden.
  • Sun 10 April. Brunch at Q Cumbers.
  • Mon 11 April. Afternoon, take off home from MSP.


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    December 11, 2010

    Hey, we can get a beer!

  2. #2 DB
    December 11, 2010

    I was born and raised here in Minneapolis, and though I can’t answer your questions in detail, I can perhaps point you in some helpful directions.

    Jane Wilson, aka “Aunt Jane”, a woman who helped Chinese immigrants to Minnesota.

    Minnesota Historical SocietyThe organization for matters historical in Minnesota. Look here for for primary source materials, such as diaries, letters, government records, and artifacts. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will surely know who does. I would recommend their museum to any tourist interested in the history and culture of our state.

    Swedish Institute – Museum and social/cultural center, housed in a magnificent old mansion (old, anyway, by local standards).

    Swedish Consulate – Yes, there are so many Swedes in Minnesota that Sweden established a consulate here. You might even find someone there who speaks Swedish!

    Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – Originally “Lutheran Brotherhood”, it was one of many financial co-operatives established by immigrants to serve ethnic subgroups in America. Today, Thrivent is just another insurance company — less “Lutheran” and more “Financial” — but they they have deep corporate pockets, and might invite you to give a talk, or sponsor your appearance at, say, the Minnesota Historical Society.

    Sons of Norway – Ditto, for Norwegians. Decades ago, as a child, I learned to love pickled herring on our many family outings to the Sunday Smorgasbords hosted by the corprate dining hall in the penthouse at SoN headquarters. However, there was nothing they could have done to inculcate a taste for lutefisk.

    PS: Sorry, I don’t travel in Prince’s social circle.

  3. #3 Martin R
    December 11, 2010

    Aha, that’s where you are? A blog summit is certainly in order!

  4. #4 Martin R
    December 11, 2010

    DB, thank you, that is excellent information!

  5. #5 Nina Clark
    December 12, 2010

    Hi! I’m Director of Programs and Exhibits at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail- our program schedule is pretty full but we’d love to have you for a visit at the very least. Best, Nina

  6. #6 Sigmund
    December 13, 2010

    Why don’t you join the Jehovahs witnesses? I’ve heard that Prince, who became one a while back, goes door to door with them (I didn’t believe it at first but apparently its true!). Perhaps the two of you can go around and try to convert PZ Myers!

  7. #7 Loki
    December 16, 2010

    That’s pretty cool, I’ll try to attend that!

  8. #8 Loki
    December 16, 2010

    You know, there are a lot of immigrant communities in Saint Paul and Minneapolis (also known as the “Twincities”), but I don’t think Chinese people comprise a very large one. You’d probably have better luck with the Hmong community or maybe the Somali community (the Twincities is kind of a major location for these two groups of immigrants, at least insofar as the United States is concerned).

  9. #9 DB
    December 18, 2010

    Agreed with Loki, with respect to recent immigrants to the Twin Cities (two words). After five or more generations, Scandinavians have fully assimilated, and most regard their Scandinavian ancestry as little more than a genealogical footnote. (“Lutefisk totally grosses me out, even though my great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side came from Norway or something. My dad — he’s like SO Italian — got this great recipe for pasta sauce from his mom. I’ll have hot sauce on my taco, please.”) Similarly, descendants of the post-WW2 Chinese wavelet are rearing their fourth generation. Many 3rd- & 4th-gen Chinese kids are working their way through college at family restaurants — they will greet you as you enter any of the Chinese Buffets scattered throughout the metropolitan area (where the kids are 1st-rate; the food, 3rd-rate at best).

    Three more recent groups are today living the cultural trauma of first-generation immigrants. Mexicans have trickled in over the decades, many as economic refugees who crossed the border illegally. A wave of Hmong immigrants arrived after the Viet Nam war — mountain people from Cambodia who fought with the Americans, they feared retaliation from the N. Vietnamese victors. Somalis constitute the most recent wave, after the UN intervention into the civil war went pear-shaped in 1993. I believe the Twin Cities host the largest Somali and Hmong enclaves in the US.

  10. #10 Victor
    January 11, 2011

    If you’re interested in some of the humanist/atheist/skeptic groups, I can direct them to your post.

    Minnesota Atheists has a monthly meeting which features a guest speaker. As does the Humanists of MN. More importantly, though, the Minneapolis Skeptics hosts a skeptics in the pub once a week.

  11. #11 Martin R
    January 11, 2011

    Please do! It would be great to meet those folks.

  12. #12 Bruce Paulson
    January 11, 2011

    Suggestion: Arriving April 6th? Bring warm clothes and winter footware.

  13. #13 Martin R
    January 11, 2011

    Thanks, I will! I lived in Connecticut in 1976-78 when the winters were pretty serious.

  14. #14 vinny
    January 11, 2011

    As a 15 year Zealous Person for Jehovah (and elder) here is my story.


  15. #15 Birger Johansson
    January 12, 2011

    I read somewhere that a region with Finn immigrants had its own bona fide pidgin language (sadly rapidly going extinct).

    Regarding ethnic groups, a suburb of Stockholm has more Iraqi refugees than USA and Britain together. And we have a surprising number of Iranians in Umeå! Alas, some Utah mormons get the hapless task of searching for potential converts here.
    — — — —

    ” I lived in Connecticut in 1976-78 ”

    But that was before Shrubman and Cheney. Today, you might get sent off from the airport to Guantanamo if you have made any online jokes that might be misconstrued as “hostile”. The politruks don’t know that Chtulhu is a fictional character.
    And if you had had dark skin (as many adopted swedes) you had better be able to prove you have enough money to take care of yourself since the default setting of the brunos is to assume people want to settle and work in USA without a green card. There are examples of (dark-skinned) Swedes getting turned away at the airport despite having the right papers. I mention this because not all Americans know just how arbitrary the process is. (Yes, I know that some Swedish authorities can be assholes, too)
    — — — — — —

    (OT): Real medical science, no woo!:
    “Virus killer gets supercharged” http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-virus-killer-supercharged.html
    A nice example of serendipity in research!

  16. #16 RBH
    January 13, 2011

    No one has mentioned the Erik the Red bottle club at the Sons of Norway, IIRC on Lake Street. Is it still there? 🙂

    (Norwegian by Association in the official lexicon of the Sons of Norway.)

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 13, 2011

    DB: I don’t know about this assimilation thing. My wife is the product of a mixed marriage (Swedish and Norwegian) so there’s a lot of conflict in that family, but not that much assimilation. There is Swedish spoken at most family gatherings and people commit errors on accident instead of by accident, and so on. But no, we don’t eat too much Lutefisk.

    Excellent suggestions in your comment, though. I can’t think of much to add other than to note that after the radio show on Sunday AM it is tradition to visit Q Cumbers for brunch, if possible.

  18. #18 Martin R
    March 13, 2011

    Definitely brunch! My wife loves them.

  19. #19 Birger Johansson
    March 13, 2011

    Greg, Swedish and Norwegian can be seen as local developments of the old Norse tongue (I find Nynorsk easier to understand than some Swedish dialects).
    — — —
    (OT Swedish connection):-Time for some overdue maintenance:
    “Sweden’s 1628 Vasa warship set for make over” http://www.thelocal.se/32522/20110311/
    — — — — — — —
    Why the bloody hell are some European users still blocked from Scienceblogs? It works fine with my office computer, but using my computer at home is impossible! Is it a bandwith thing???

    — — — — — — — —-
    (OT) How some people respond to the Japanese disaster… Some entries from Facebook (the writers are nominally human). http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/i_hope_these_people_arent_your.php?utm_source=mostactive&utm_medium=link
    And http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/upload/2011/03/i_hope_these_people_arent_your/GodBlessAmerica.php
    Here in the Old Country we only have very small tremors now and then -like a truck driving by the house- and they are easy to miss. Greg, if the glaciers went all the way South to your place once, you may have similar residual tremors, but they may not be noticeable without a seismometer.

  20. #20 Birger Johansson
    March 13, 2011

    Damn! “held for approval”, a case of “one link too far”. Anyway, have a good trip!

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