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Why 3,000 People Want to Give A Chunk of Minnesota to Canada

Everyone associates the 49th parallel with the U.S.-Canadian border. That’s unless you live in a 123-square-mile portion of Lake of the Woods County known as the Northwest Angle

Thanks to a surveying error from 1783 the small, forest-filled chunk of Minnesota lies on the Canadian side of the border. And now, some stickler has started a petition to give the land to Canada.

Going by the name C.C., the individual started a petition on WhiteHouse.gov that had a bit more than 3,000 signatures as of Friday morning; it only needs 97,000 more to garner a response from President Donald Trump. “Make america great by correcting this critical survey error,” C.C. wrote.

Just about 150 people live in the Northwest Angle, which is 80% water. But 70% of the land is part of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, belonging to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. It has a regional airport, post office, one-room schoolhouse and a number of fishing resorts — they’re known for their walleye.

To get to the Northwest Angle by land from the main part of Minnesota, you have to cross the border into Canada, going through passport control in Manitoba. The road into the Northwest Angle is unmanned, but you’re asked to use a videophone to announce your presence to border control.

The last time defecting to Canada was widely discussed, it was because of a fishing dispute. Ontario tried to implement fishing limits on the Lake of the Woods in the late 1990s, and Northwest Angle residents weren’t having it. The Chippewa people were not on board with the idea, though, and then-Gov. Jesse Ventura eventually negotiated an agreement to keep Northwest Angle residents happy.

Lisa Goulet, who owns the Angle Outpost Resort with her family, told the BBC it was a fun story but she was not going to sign the petition. “We understand it was a mistake, that it wasn’t on purpose that the United States or that Minnesota was gifted this area, but we are blessed and so grateful for this area and we don’t take it for granted,” she said. “So it’s not like we’re just willing to say ‘Oh, right, you can have it back,’ because it’s our home.”