Why Treaties Matter

Photo by Gary Padrta, White Earth Nation.
Exhibit at White Earth Tribal Headquarters

Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nation is a nationally recognized, award-winning, traveling exhibit made in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The exhibit has expanded to include seven educator guides of innovative classroom material and an enhanced virtual exhibit available at TreatiesMatter.org.

Learn more about the Humanities Center's work with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the development of the Why Treaties Matter project.

Traveling Exhibit

This traveling exhibit explores 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.

On View Now at the State Capitol

Minnesota State Capitol, 3rd Floor, Rooms 316-317
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN, 55155 (map)
Open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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

TreatiesMatter.org Virtual Exhibit

Explore the Virtual Exhibit.
Unable to explore the exhibit in person? The online virtual exhibit is a great alternative to the in-person experience.

Explore Relationships and Treaties
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.

Educator Guides
In 2013, community members and educators developed educator guides to accompany the exhibit content. These guides provide educators with background, student readings and activities, vocabulary lists, and suggested resources. These guides provide an excellent basis for educators to incorporate concepts into existing curriculum.


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.

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 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)