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

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

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.

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


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.