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 and Virtual Exhibits

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.

MnSCU Tour

This tour is made possible by a partnership with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Exhibit Locations and Dates

September 22-October 10 - Minnesota State University - Moorhead, Moorhead
October 18-October 28 - Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks
October 31-November 9 - Northland Community and Technical Colleege, Thief River Falls
November 15-December 7 - St. Paul College, St. Paul
December 13-January 21 - Pine Technical and Community College, Pine City

January 28-February 8 - Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids
February 11-February 17 - Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge
February 25-March 15 - Century College, White Bear Lake
March 23-March 30 - Hennepin Technical College, Eden Prairie
April 2-April 10 - Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park
April 18-May 10 - Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall
June 1-June 10 - Ridgewater College, Willmar
June 15-June 19 - Ridgewater College, Hutchinson
June 29-July 15 - Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester

Northern Minnesota Tour

This tour is made possible by a partnership with Itasca Community College and the Circle of Healing with additional support from the Blandin Foundation, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the Northland Foundation.

Exhibit Locations and Dates

2014 - 2015
August 1 – August 26 - Grand Rapids Library, Grand Rapids
September 3 – September 26 - Itasca Community College, Grand Rapids
October 6 – October 29 - Deer River High School, Deer River
November 2 – November 23 - Mesabi Range Community College, Virginia
December 3 – December 19 - Bug O Nay Ge Shig School, Bena
January 5 – January 16 - Grand Rapids Middle School, Grand Rapids
January 26 – February 20 - Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids
March 2 – March 27 - Bigfork High School, Grand Rapids
April 6 – April 24 - Rainy River Community College, International Falls
May 4 – May 13 - Greenway High School, Coleriane
May 18 – May 22 - Nashwauk High School, Nashwauk
June 8 - August 28 - Northern Lights Casino, Walker

2015 - 2016
September 7 – September 25 - Northland Community School, Remer
October 5 - October 21 - Hibbing Community College, Hibbing
November 2 - November 17 - MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids
November 23 – December 18 - Central Lakes Community College, Brainerd
January 4 - January 20 - Northern Lights Community School, Warba
January 28 – February 12 - Cloquet High School, Cloquet
February 22 – March 9 - Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet
March 19 – April 1 - Floodwood School, Floodwood
April 11 - April 27 - Vermilion Community College, Ely
May 5 - May 20 - Hill City School, Hill City

Virtual Exhibit

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

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


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.

Eductator 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 (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)