By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On May 11, 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state. It would be another three years before “L’etoile du Nord” became the state’s official motto.

So, how did that happen? Good Question.

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L’etoile du Nord – that’s interpreted as the Star of the North,” says Brian Pease, the State Capitol’s Historic Site Manager for the Minnesota Historical Society.

In 1861, then-Governor Henry Sibley thought the saying would make a good state motto. Not only was Minnesota the most northern state at the time, Sibley appreciated the symbolism of the star.

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“That’s always a light or a star that explorers would use to navigate,” said Pease. “He was looking to the future, to follow Minnesota’s lead, we’re a state to be followed.”

Legislators approved the motto in French as a nod to the early French-Canadian settles and Voyageurs in Minnesota.

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And, as for Minnesota’s unofficial state nickname – the Land of 10,000 Lakes? That was a 1920s tourism campaign to lure people to Minnesota.

Heather Brown