Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Did modern Minnesota roads evolve from Native American trails?


The Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota, officially Cook County Road 12, began as a series of portages created by Native American people.

Minnesota has the fifth-largest network of roads in the nation, much of it built over the last century. But some of those roads have been providing passage for a whole lot longer.

Bryan Evarts wondered if any roads that drivers traverse today evolved from trails created by Native Americans, who populated the land long before white settlers arrived enmass in the mid-1800s. He posed the question to Curious Minnesota, the Star Tribune's reporting project fueled by great reader questions.

Records are scarce, but there are several examples of modern roads that parallel or follow original Native trails - including some busy corridors like Interstate 94. The evolution of those corridors followed a period when the U.S. government forcefully removed tribes from the state or onto reservations.


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