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Episode 48: Minnesota: The Exclave with Raphi Nussbaum

podcast Nov 01, 2021

In this episode, Sharon speaks with Raphi Nussbaum about Angle Inlet, Minnesota, a tiny community in North America’s Lake of the Woods. Angle Inlet is an exclave of American Territory that is entirely surrounded by water, Ontario, and Manitoba. Nestled in the Lake of the Woods, Angle Inlet is home to approximately 120 residents among 35 households. The exclave houses the last operating one-room schoolhouse in America, a post office, a customs office, and a humble cafe. Listen to learn more about how residents and tourists access this remote peninsula that shares no border with the contiguous United States.

Links to Full Episode:

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • What is an exclave? 
  • Unconventional Canadian border crossing 
  • America’s last operating one-room schoolhouse 
  • How the United States border was mapped
  • COVID-19 impacts on remote American communities 
  • Did Minnesota try to secede from the United States? 

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • Angle Inlet is located in the Northwest Angle which is United States territory within Lake of the Woods, home to over 14,000 islands. Lake of the Woods spans part of Northern Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba. The Northwest Angle is an exclave of United States territory totally encased within Canada and it is the northernmost part of the contiguous United States but shares solid borders only with Canadian territory. Just over 100 people call Angle Inlet home and their lifestyle looks drastically different from the majority of Americans. 
  • There are two ways to access Angle Inlet, by boat or by crossing the Canadian border. For the children of the Angle Inlet community, school transportation is not as simple as most American children. Elementary school students attend Angle Inlet School, the last operating one-room schoolhouse in America. Older students, however, are transported across international borders every morning to attend school in mainland Minnesota. For other residents, means of transportation to and from the island include a ferry, border crossing via car, or, when winter weather permits, a shortcut across the frozen waters with a car or snowmobile. 
  • Why is Angle Inlet not legally a part of Canada when it is so clearly part of Canada? The Treaty of Paris delegated the Northwest Angle as a region of the United States in 1763 when the British negotiated boundary lines with America. However, the map used at the time was developed by a cartographer who had not accurately plotted the Northwest Angle and failed to account for landmass within Lake of the Woods. Therefore, the Northwest Angle became United States territory as American treaty participants has no interest in seceding the land they just negotiated despite its precarious location 

About the Guest:

Raphi Nussbaum is a husband, father, photographer, and educator based in Jerusalem. As a Rabbi, Raphi is an expert in Jewish studies and teaches an intensive Jewish Orthodox curriculum at a higher institution for men. The students in Raphi’s program are all Jewish Americans who temporarily relocate to Israel or Jerusalem to further their knowledge in Judaism. Follow Raphi’s journey on Instagram @the_shuttery.

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