SHARECOMMENTMORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota does not seem to have the same devotion to Columbus Day as other parts of the country, like New York. Columbus Day has been observed as a national holiday in the U.S. since the 1930's and has often been associated with Italian-American observances.

In Minnesota, there is one major tribute to the explorer credited with "discovering" America. It is a life-sized statue on the grounds of the State Capitol. The statue has stood in the shadow of the Capitol since 1931, just yards from the statues of Minnesota political elite, although Columbus was never in Minnesota.

Actually, Columbus never set foot in what is now the United States of America. His arrival in the "New World" consisted of landing on islands near the Caribbean. Still, millions of Americans grew up reciting the poem "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

The explorer has come under less flattering scrutiny in recent years because of the treatment and condition of the peoples residing in the lands that became invaded by European conquerors. The book "1941" by Charles C. Mann, details the extensive civilizations that existed in the Western Hemisphere at the time Columbus arrived.

The observances of Columbus Day in Minnesota were inconsistent. Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools were in session, while Roseville district students were off. Post offices were closed, but some banks remained open. The Minneapolis libraries were open, but St. Paul's public libraries were closed.

Cossetta, a St. Paul eatery that has become an Italian icon, was closed Monday, but not in observance of the holiday. It was to facilitate the movement of the restaurant and market into the new, larger space on the same West 7th Street site.