Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author, community college instructor and radio producer from Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.


The humbling of giants: The rise and decline of the Iron Range — Essay

By: - September 28, 2021

Mesabi means giant.  That means that I was raised in the land of giants on the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota. In my youth, I saw those giants as the elected leaders who fought for my homeland in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. When I was 10 I watched my grandfather, Marvin Johnson, run […]


Iron Range labor’s maturity, and decline — Column

By: - August 31, 2021

Twenty years ago I attended one of countless public forums regarding the economic future of northern Minnesota. A local business owner lamented that there would be no new business on the Iron Range so long as unions were so strong. Unions, she said, got in the way of everything.  Some things have changed since then. […]


These old timers have nostalgia all wrong — Column

By: - August 2, 2021

Years ago, when he was still alive, my grandfather Marvin Johnson showed me a small slip of paper from the drawer of his end table. It was a list of names I did not recognize. As he filled in his crossword puzzle, grandpa told me that these people were buried in unmarked graves on the […]


The history of what is not true | Column

By: - July 6, 2021

They say the Israelites worshipped a golden calf when Moses was on Mount Sinai, but not all idols are made of gold. Some of them are the stories we tell ourselves. We run late for a good reason, never sloth or inconsideration. Our greed goes by the name “ambition.” We so want to forgive the […]


If a tree falls and there was no story about it in the paper, did it happen? | Opinion

By: - June 14, 2021

There’s a crisis at the border. No, not that border. And not that crisis. This one directly affects Minnesotans’ lives and the viability of our local democracy. On June 24, the International Falls Journal will cease publication, ending a 118-year run of journalistic service to this isolated small town in far northern Minnesota. The news […]

‘When the red iron pits ran a-plenty’: Northland celebrates Bob Dylan’s 80th | Essay

By: - May 19, 2021

If you want to find something new, look for destruction. Over a few billion years on Earth, planetary disasters created new forms of life. A meteor here. Volcanic eruptions there. Each time new plants and critters emerged until, one day, we put on pants. Look at what happens after a northern Minnesota forest fire. New […]


Like it or not: We’re all in this together | Opinion

By: - April 29, 2021

We often grow up believing that a hastily drawn line might solve a conflict. Kids draw lines at the dinner table or in the back seat of the car. “Dad, he’s touching my side!” Drawing lines never works. Eventually the kids have to figure out how to stand each other. I can’t promise how it […]


Iron Range publisher-legislator often had it right — a century ago | Opinion

By: - March 25, 2021

A century ago, Rufus W. Hitchcock published the first daily newspaper on Minnesota’s Iron Range, the Hibbing Daily Tribune. As publisher and editor of the Tribune, Hitchcock resembled many such figures then and now. His carefully worded editorials warned of moral rot but also that times change. He thought both sides had a good point […]


The clash of two big steel companies will help shape the future of the Iron Range | Analysis

By: - February 8, 2021

One day, making tracks In the prairie of Prax, Came a North-Going Zax And a South-Going Zax. And it happened that both of them came to a place Where they bumped. There they stood. Foot to foot. Face to face. — From “The Zax” by Dr. Seuss The Mesabi range city of Hibbing owes its […]


Law and order starts with peace | Opinion

By: - January 25, 2021

Something terrible happened on Dec. 5, 2020, in the Mesabi Iron Range town of Mountain Iron. St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a shoplifter at a store along State Highway 169. It didn’t take long for them to get there. The Sheriff’s Department headquarters is practically across the road. An hour […]


Just like a century ago, there’s a class war in rural America, and the wrong side is winning

By: - December 16, 2020

Across Minnesota we hear the cannon fire of a culture war. Burgeoning resentments spill into our politics, creating entrenched factions that dig in even deeper when the fighting escalates. At least here in northern Minnesota, the rally call is “Our Way of Life.” “Our Way of Life” is much more than U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber’s […]


Bakk-assoni say they’re going “independent.” More like kept company men.

By: - November 18, 2020

Two longtime Iron Range state senators will leave the DFL caucus and form an independent caucus for the 2021 legislative session. State Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm and former DFL majority leader Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook made the announcement Wednesday.  The Republicans held a 34-33 majority in the State Senate. Now they’ll hold a […]