In a 2013 profile, State Rep. Cornish shoots straight from the hip, Dennis Anderson wrote that the Vernon Center-area Republican worked as a conservation officer in northern Minnesota for years and now "owns 70 acres of good wildlife habitat literally out his back door" in what's left of the Cornish family farm.
That pretty much squares with the 70 acres of land Cornish reports in his Economic Interest Statement (EIS) that's online at the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and Blue Earth County land records (enter Section 24/106/28), that indicate he retained about 70 acres of rural vacant, nonproductive land of the Cornish Family farm, sold the family farmstead to his brother in 2009, and sold the remaining Cornish Family ag land to farming neighbors by 2012.
But that's not the picture Cornish painted in floor speeches on Wednesday, April 5, and Thursday, April 6.
On Wednesday, Cornish scolded state representative Rick Hansen, DFL-S. St. Paul, for leaving the farm in southeastern Minnesota where the Democrat was raised, while claiming he himself never left the farm:
Cornish: Mr. Speaker and members, Representative Hansen, yes, we both did come from the farm, but the difference is I didn't move away. I stayed there and I bought the farm and the pigs still go oink-oink and the cows still go moo. You should get back there.
Here's the video (the YouTube is mislabeled as 4/4/17, but the original video shows the correct date in the footer):
Cornish lives in a charming modern log house in the woods where he hunts; photos in the public record of the old Cornish farmstead--now owned by the brother--show buildings that are home to weeds, rather than to livestock with anything to say:
Representative Hansen's EIS, on the other hand, reveals that he owns 643.9 acres in Fillmore and Freeborn Counties.
You can go home again, Angel, but your home isn't in Mankato
But there's that other bit: straight-shooting Cornish's claim Tuesday that he never left home. Anderson's profile notes Cornish's many years as a conservation officer in northern Minnesota. Perhaps he stayed in Vernon Center and farmed, with the second job (so many farmers hold one) in the north woods, but that's one heck of a commute.
Unfortunately, on Thursday, Cornish changed his life story in order to convey what he considered to be his great respect for "the native people" even though he planned to vote to allow Enbridge to go ahead with a pipeline without PUC oversight that DFL native lawmakers sought to retain.
In the new Cornish nativity, he must have left the farm, since his children attended school with native children in the community of Squaw Lake. Moreover, Cornish told the body that he lives in Mankato, which is important to native people because of the execution of Dakota prisoners of war on the day after Christmas 1862.
Cornish: . . .I've harvested rice with the native people. I've taught the native people in the Squaw Lake school--firearm safety. My kids have gone to school with them. For 20 years I worked the Red Lake, the Net Lake, the Leech Lake and White Earth Reservation[s] at different times in my career, got along well with the native people, worked together. Watched each other's back, answered calls, went on to the Red Lake Reservation on calls, which you know that has to be with permission of the reservation police there because it's a closed reservation.
So at any rate. . . and I live in Mankato, which is very special to the memory of the native people because of the hangings that happened there . . .
Here's the video:
So let's recap: On Wednesday, Cornish scolded a white male colleague for leaving the farm. Cornish had never done such a thing, but still lives on a Blue Earth County farm with talkative livestock. By the next day, in a statement to "the native people" (we'll let native lawmakers evaluate its quality), he had lived and worked near reservations in Northern Minnesota and now lives in Mankato.
Not that Mankato is in the district he represents. (Or that he lives in Mankato).
UPDATE: Bluestem had to check on the history of the "Winnebago"/Ho-Chunk reservation that was once within Representative Cornish's district (see the square just southeast of the bend in the Minnesota River in Blue Earth and Waseca County in the map above).
As we suspected, the Vernon Center conservative didn't have to relocate himself to Mankato is he wished to somehow connect himself geographically with the suffering native people experienced following the 1862 US-Dakota War. MNOpedia author Matt Reichel wrote in Ho-Chunk and Blue Earth, 1855–1863:
In 1859 the Ho-Chunk looked for a new source of income. Their old annuities had expired, and they needed money to pay off their debts, improve their farms, and buy equipment and stock. Continued immigration to Minnesota had raised the value of the Blue Earth land. With this in mind, the Ho-Chunk signed a new treaty with the government relinquishing the western part of their reservation.
The people of Mankato and surrounding communities were jubilant over the treaty and welcomed the opportunity to move onto the ceded land. However, they felt that the government had not gone far enough. They called for the complete removal of the Ho-Chunk from Minnesota. Articles in local newspapers pushed for drastic action.
The 1859 treaty superseded all previous agreements between the Ho-Chunk and the government. By 1861, however, it had not yet been ratified. White farmers and developers began to move onto the land. Frustrated by the incursions and lacking the money needed to continue to support their farms, many Ho-Chunk suffered.
On August 18, 1862, a group of Dakota attacked the Lower Sioux Agency, beginning the U.S.-Dakota War. The Ho-Chunk did not participate and remained at Blue Earth. After the war, thirteen Ho-Chunk were tried for allegedly acting in concert with the Dakota. No evidence implicated them, and none were convicted. The angry and fearful white public, however, did not distinguish between American Indian groups. They demanded that the government remove the Ho-Chunk as well as the Dakota.
Later that year, a special session of the U.S. Congress was called to approve the exile of the Ho-Chunk from Minnesota. A federal act authorizing removal was passed on February 21, 1863.
On April 25, 1863, the Ho-Chunk were notified that they would be moved to a barren tract of land along the Missouri River in Crow Creek, South Dakota. A small group applied for citizenship to avoid removal but was denied. Many others resisted the government's orders and refused to leave. In early May, under threat of military force, over two thousand Ho-Chunk were moved to Camp Porter in Mankato and from there to Crow Creek. More than 550 Ho-Chunk died during their removal to South Dakota. . . . [end update]
Photos: As labeled. Note: Tony Cornish has lived in his district since running for office in 2002. He simply doesn't live in Mankato, nor has he "never left" the farm or area since childhood, as he alternatively claimed on Thursday and Wednesday in order to score talking points.
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