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Viking Myths of Minnesota’s Kensington Rune Stone — and What Those Myths Reveal About the (Mis)Shaping of Identity in the Face of the Religious and Racial Other

  • American Swedish Insititute 2600 Park Avenue Minneapolis, MN, 55407 United States (map)

Free and open to the public (registration is encouraged, but not required)

In 1898, a Swedish immigrant farmer claimed to have discovered a large rock with writing carved into its surface in a Minnesota field. The inscription told a North American origin story, predating Christopher Columbus’s exploration, in which Viking missionaries reached what is now Minnesota in 1362 only to be massacred by Indians. The tale’s credibility was quickly challenged and ultimately undermined by experts, but the myth took hold. For Scandinavian immigrants, the Kensington Rune Stone yielded evidence that they had deep historical roots in their new American home. However, this “homemaking myth” also cast Minnesota’s first residents as "pagans" and “savages” who deserved to be removed to make way for a white, Christian society. In this lecture, Dr. Krueger will discuss what Minnesota’s Viking myths reveal about anxieties related to religious and racial diversity that persist to the present day.

 David M. Krueger, Ph.D.

David M. Krueger, Ph.D.

David M. Krueger is a storyteller, scholar, author, and educator who is passionate about public history and social justice. His areas of expertise include American religious history, violence, myths, and popular culture. Dr. Krueger is a sought-after lecturer and speaker and has frequently served as a narrator and on-camera scholarly contributor with the Travel Channel and the Science Channel. He received a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary and a PhD in religion from Temple University. His book, Myths of the Rune Stone: Viking Martyrs and the Birthplace of America, was published by the University of Minnesota Press. Dr. Krueger is also a versatile and seasoned educator who has taught at several colleges and universities and community-based settings, including the Arch Street United Methodist Church. He works as a media and education consultant for The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and provides scholarly direction for a U.S. State Department program on religious pluralism run by the Dialogue Institute at Temple University. Although he grew up as a farm kid in Minnesota, he has come to love Philadelphia and its fascinating history since moving there in 1995. Articles and essays he has written have appeared in several media outlets including the Religion Dispatches, the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (forthcoming), and Marginalia: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel. He is certified by the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides to offer guided tours of religious and historical sites in the city.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. Come early and purchase dinner at FIKA, an award-winning café embracing the spirit of the Swedish fika and bringing the best of new Nordic-inspired cuisine to Minnesota and the region (located in Larson Hall, first floor).

Sponsored by
Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas
Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John's University
American Swedish Institute
Gustavus Adolphus College

In collaboration with
Norway House

With generous support from
Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.