Closing of Norwegian consulate upsets Minnesotans

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MINNEAPOLIS: Around a table at Ingebretsen's, an 86-year-old market stocked with Norwegian staples like lutefisk, meatballs and fruit soup, the women of the Monday knitting club were upset.

"This is a bit of a slap in the face," Janet Rog, 74, said of Norway's recent announcement that it would shut its career consulate here next year and send the diplomats home.

The consulate - opened in 1906 and upgraded in 1946 to its current status as consulate general - is a point of pride for the Upper Midwest, which is home to more Norwegian-Americans than any other region of the country.

It is hardly a question of their needing a nearby office to get passport updates or the like. The families of most, after all, have lived in America for generations, and many confess that they have never actually set foot inside the consulate. Rather, this is a matter of respect, of recognition.

"We're very proud of our roots, and we've tried really hard to preserve them," said Shirley Hansen, another knitter at a table bursting with the bright geometric patterns Norway is known for.

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