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

August 24-September 13 - South Central College, North Mankato
September 21-September 30 - Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington
October 3-October 11 - Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Pipestone
October 19-November 8 - Normandale Community College, Bloomington
November 16-December 6 - Minnesota State University, Mankato

January 11-January 24 - Winona State University, Winona
February 1-February 21 - Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Winona
February 29-March 23 - Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria
March 30-April 17 - Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis
April 25-May 15 - Metro State University, St. Paul
June 27-July 17 - Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes

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

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)