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Iron had been mined since 1892 on the Mesabi Range, one of three ranges that make up Minnesota's Iron Range.
On the Mesabi, iron ore was originally mined both underground and in open pits above ground. Many Mesabi Range miners were European immigrants, recruited by mining companies including the Oliver Iron Mining Company, a subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation.
Still, the strike was threatened by local authorities.
On August 10, nineteen miners were accused of rioting and imprisoned for a month.
Living and working conditions on the Iron Range were poor, and mining companies openly discriminated against immigrant miners by giving them the most dangerous and lowest paying jobs.
New immigrants were easily exploited because they did not speak English, had little money, and were far away from their families and social support networks.
More prominent unions such as the American Federation of Labor were not interested in organizing unskilled laborers like miners and lumberjacks.
Tired of ethnic discrimination as well as dangerous working conditions, low wages, and long work days, immigrant iron miners on the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota went on strike on July 20, 1907.
Their strike lasted only two months before it was suppressed with strikebreakers, but it was notable for being the first organized strike on the state's Iron Range.
Local businesses also hurt the strikers by denying them credit.
Strikers responded by organizing consumer cooperatives in several towns.
By the end of the strike, the company had spent $255,000 on special deputies and strikebreakers.