Why Treaties Matter

Photo by Gary Padrta, White Earth Nation.
Exhibit at White Earth Tribal Headquarters
In August 2010, a resolution creating a unique partnership of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. was approved by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and made it possible for this exhibition to be developed as an educational tool for Minnesota audiences.

This partnership led to the creation of an exhibit unique in its community-based approach.  From its inception, the knowledge, insight, and perspective of tribal members have been the foundation upon which this exhibit was developed.  From this foundation of community involvement has emerged a vehicle for an unfiltered, authentic Dakota voice and Ojibwe voice upon which these communities tell their own stories of sovereignty, adaptability, and preparing tribes to thrive.

Resolution Excerpt: Be it Finally Resolved that the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council supports the work initiative by the Minnesota Humanities Center in the development of the partnership between the Minnesota Humanities Center, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and the first ever Minnesota American Indian Treaties project in the state of Minnesota.  August 24, 2010
Learn more
about the Humanities Center's work with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.

Traveling Exhibit

Traveling Exhibit
This traveling exhibit exploring relationships between Dakota and Ojibwe Indian Nations and the U.S. government in this place we now call Minnesota. Learn, through a video presentation and 20 banners featuring text and images, how treaties affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of this place, and why these binding agreements between nations still matter today.

In the News

2013 Exhibit Host Sites:
June 16- June 18: Hosted by Department of Human Services, Board on Aging at Duluth Convention Center, Duluth
May 22-25: Neighborhoods USA Conference, Minneapolis
May 1-June 7 Eden Prairie High School-Performing Arts Center, Eden Prairie
April 2: American Indian Education Day at the State Capitol, St. Paul
March 22-April 5: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Jan 26: The Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Jan 3-31: Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul
Dates to be announced: Bemidji State University, Bemidji

New in 2013: Classroom Content Development
The Why Treaties Matter exhibit continues to serve as an education tool. Classroom material has been identified as necessary to the ongoing impact of the Why Treaties Matter exhibit. In 2013, exhibit host sites will partner to pilot innovative classroom materials for students in grades 6-12 and enhance engagement with exhibit content.

Highlights of what people are saying and the Traveling Exhibit to date (PDF)

Companion Website
While the traveling exhibit focuses on a single element of treaties – the sovereignty of Dakota and Ojibwe people today – the website presents relationships as a context for examining Dakota and Ojibwe – U.S. treaties.

Dakota and Ojibwe-U.S.Treaties Today
Learn from tribal members in Minnesota as they discuss treaties from a personal and scholarly perspective. How do these videos challenge or reinforce your current perceptions of treaties?

A Day in the Life of Minnesota Tribal Nations is a 14 minute video production by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, created in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Why Treaties Matter Program Development
Learn how Dakota communities and Ojibwe Tribal Nations led the exhibit development process and hear what community members are saying about the exhibit.

Meet our Site Selection Committee (PDF)

Follow the exhibit on Facebook

In the News

Why Treaties Matter Exhibit Coming to Bois Forte (PDF)
Hometown Focus, August 10, 2012

Treaties Still Matter in Minnesota (PDF)
National Endowment for the Humanities Website, April 4, 2012

Apple Valley Schools to Host Exhibit of Dakota, Ojibwe Treaties With U.S. (PDF)
Apple Valley Patch, March 16, 2012

Treaty History Comes to Franklin Avenue (PDF)
Star Tribune, March 5, 2012

New Native American Exhibit Comes to St. Peter (video)
KEYC TV Mankato, January 5, 2012

1862 Programs Start in January 2012 (PDF)
St. Peter Herald, December 21, 2011

Traveling Exhibit Educates Minnesotans About Tribal Self-Government (PDF)
Insight, National Museum of the American Indian, Fall/Winter 2011

Why Treaties Matter (PDF)
American Indian Magazine, Winter 2011

A Nation of Treaties (PDF)
Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, November/December 2011

Press Release: Traveling "Why Treaties Matter" Exhibition has a New Website (PDF)
October 31, 2011

Riverland to host traveling exhibit on state's native nations (PDF)
Albert Lea Tribune, October 20, 2011

Exhibit on tribal treaties opens in St. Paul (PDF)
Minnesota Public Radio, October 7, 2011

Treaties Between the U.S. Government and Native Americans Matter (PDF)
Indian Country Today, September 13, 2011

In Focus -- Why Treaties Matter (video)
Lakeland Public Television, September 9, 2011

White Earth Rolls out Red Carpet for Treaties Exhibit
Anishinaabeg Today, September 7, 2011

Why Treaties Should Matter to Everyone in Minnesota (PDF)
Chairman Kevin Leecy, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, September 1, 2011

Martha Fast Horse Show (podcast)
August 14, 2011 Special guests David O'Fallon, Ph.D., Minnesota Humanities Center, and Mona Smith, Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota, Allies Media/Art

Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations (PDF)
News from Indian Country, August 8, 2011

Martha Fast Horse Show (podcast)
July 31, 2011 Special guests Annamarie Hill, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and Mark Hirsch, Ph.D., National Museum of the American Indian

The Winona County History Center will host "Why Treaties Matter" October 1-31, 2012 (PDF)
The Winona Post, June 29, 2011

Press Release: Why Treaties Matter  Exhibit Launches August 2011 (PDF)

Smithsonian asks Minnesota Tribes for help with new exhibit (podcast)
July 26, 2010 All Things Considered Special Guest Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian


American Indian Responses to Statehood
In the months leading up to the state of Minnesota's sesquicentenial, the Minnesota Humanities Center began working with Dakota and Ojibwe people to record stories of how statehood affected their homes, their familes, their future.

Bdote Memory Map

The Bdote Memory Map (bdotememorymap.org) is a geography-based, digital media resource for Dakota people to express connections to traditional places and to help non-Native citizens see Minnesota from an indigenous point of view.

Map of major land cessions in Minnesota treaties

Treaties involving Indigenous people and land with Minnesota Territory (PDF)

Play the quiz: How much do YOU know about about treaties? (will download a PowerPoint onto your computer)

This work is funded in part by The Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation.