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Online petition calls for US to give part of Minnesota to Canada

Petitioners claim a surveying error in 1783 wrongly awarded the land to the U.S.

Image source: YouTube video screenshot

An online petition is calling for the U.S. government to "Make America Great" by handing over the Northwest Angle of Minnesota to Canada.

Nearly 3,500 people have signed the petition, launched Sunday on "We the People," the White House's public platform. The petition claims a surveying error more than 200 years ago placed the land under the wrong territory. It's unclear who created the petition. The author is only known by the initials C.C.

"The Angle," as it's known to locals, is a small chunk of land that sits on the northern side of Lake of the Woods. About 80 percent of its nearly 600 square miles is made up of water. The area, surrounded by Canadian territory, is the northernmost point of the contiguous 48 states.

What's the story?

The debate over whether the territory belongs to Canada or the U.S. has gone on for decades. It all started with the drafting of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which marked the end of the Revolutionary War, Nasa's Earth Observatory wrote in a 2015 article.

[N]egotiators worked out a border from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. After cutting across the Great Lakes, the border was to follow smaller lakes and rivers (such as the Rainy) from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods, Earth Observatory explained. "The border was then supposed to extend at a northwest angle across Lake of the Woods and cut due west to the Mississippi River. But existing surveys of the area were rudimentary. The mapped shape (like a large egg) and location of Lake of the Woods were quite wrong, and the headwaters of the Mississippi were found to be to the south and west, not due west."

The British tried several times during the 19th century to negotiate the return of The Angle to Canada, but the U.S. didn't want to change anything from the Treaty of Paris.

What do residents want?

About 120 residents live in The Angle, and while they are happy to be neighbors to Canada, they apparently want to remain part of the U.S.

"We're proud to be neighbors, but that is where we draw the line — figuratively and literally," Lisa Goulet, a fifth-generation "Angleite" told the StarTribune. Goulet and her husband, along with their eight children, run the Angle Outpost Resort.

"We love being neighbors with Canada," she said. "We have a U.S. and a Canadian flag on our porch. We started celebrating Boxing Day this year. If they gave us to Canada, it would be very personal."

Judy Risser, a 46-year resident, said she's also opposed to the idea.

"I have nothing against [Canadians]," she said. "And who wants to go through a fight? I believe I'm a U.S. citizen and would like to stay that way."

One resident said she's not against becoming a Canadian, as long as she doesn't have to move.

"As long as I don't have to move, I guess I wouldn't mind being Canadian," Samantha Palmquist told the Tribune. "But if they try to force me out, then forget it."

What else?

The administration reviews and responds to petitions that reach the 100,000 signature threshold within 30 days.

One last thing…
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