Although Informant AA has lived in Alabama for most of their lifetime, they frequently return to their hometown in Minnesota to visit their family that still lives there. AA’s family live on one of the many lakes in Minnesota and they frequently take their boat out on the water.
When speaking with AA, they told me of a superstition that is shared between many boaters in Minnesota. The Minnesota state bird is the Common Loon. Loons can swim underwater in search of food for up to five minutes.
The belief is that if your boat hits and kills a Loon while it is swimming underwater your boat becomes cursed.
I asked AA how boaters would respond if they were to kill a Loon while boating or if there were any ways to reverse this curse. AA did not have any answers to these questions, but they did say that their family is careful to avoid any Loons while they are boating.
Since the Loon is recognized as the state bird, it serves as a symbol for Minnesota. After hearing this folk belief, I am led to believe that it not only functions to protect the Loons themselves but also the identity of Minnesota. With increased boat activity comes an increased risk of damaging the native Loon population. In accepting the belief that a boat becomes cursed once it kills a Loon, citizens are simultaneously supporting and sustaining a facet of their Minnesota identity.