Why Treaties Matter Program Development


Exhibit Development Timeline

2008 | 2010 | 2011

Key Partners
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC)
Minnesota Humanities Center (Humanities Center)
National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)


November - State of Minnesota Legacy funding creates partnership between Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and Minnesota Humanities Center.


February - The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian visits Minnesota Indian Affairs Council to discuss its forthcoming national treaties exhibit.

July - Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, visits the tribal leaders from the following nations to discuss a possible exhibit: Prairie Island, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Bois Forte, Red Lake, Lower Sioux, Upper Sioux.  

August - Minnesota Indian Affairs Council quarterly board meeting at which they consider launching an American Indian – U.S. treaties in Minnesota traveling exhibit.  MIAC board signs resolution, initiating the project.

October - Project Team visits with Grand Portage tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Project Team visits with Red Lake Nation tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Project Team visits with White Earth Nation tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Project Team visits with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Project Team visits with Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

November - Project Team visits with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Project Team visits with Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

December - Project Team visits with Lower Sioux Indian Community tribal leadership to gather proposed exhibit content.

Presentation at quarterly MIAC Board Meeting to give an update on exhibit progress.

Winter 2010June 2011  Regular meetings and consultation with Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Minnesota Humanities Center, and National Museum of the American Indian, including revisions of text and images through seven exhibit drafts.


January - First draft of exhibit text, based on recommendations of tribal leadership, received from National Museum of the American Indian.

March - Quarterly MIAC Board Meeting - Discussion/Update on Treaties Exhibit Draft; Matthew Brandt, Minnesota Humanities Center, PowerPoint presentation of the Treaties draft and discussion; Liz Hill, NMAI Liaison to Tribes within Minnesota, Liz Hill Public Relations, Ltd.

Upper Sioux Community Tribal leadership provides guidance and influences revisions to final exhibit script.

May - NMAI pre-production trip to Minnesota for accompanying exhibit DVD.  Includes four days of visits to the Prairie Island Indian Community, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Lower Sioux Community, Upper Sioux Community, White Earth Nation, Red Lake Nation, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

June - NMAI returns to Minnesota to capture footage for accompanying exhibit DVD, A Day in the Life of Tribal Nations in Minnesota.  This includes ten days of visits and interviews.  Some footage captured includes Mendota (Tom Ross, Upper Sioux), the State Capitol, Bois Forte (Kevin Leecy, Chairman), Red Lake (Floyd Jourdain, Chairman), White Earth (Erma Vizenor, Chairwoman), Leech Lake, Upper Sioux (Kevin Jensvold, Chairman), and Shakopee (Stanley Crooks,  Chairman).

July - Meeting of the Host Site Selection Committee, comprised of Dakota and Ojibwe community members recommended by MIAC.

Minnesota Indian Affairs Quarterly Board Meeting.  Matthew Brandt, Minnesota Humanities Center, and Liz Hill, consultant to the Humanities Center, Liz Hill PR, Ltd., present exhibit content, and selected host sites.

August - Host site representatives travel to White Earth Nation for exhibit planning workshop.

Exhibit begins touring Minnesota with statewide launch at White Earth Nation.            
Exhibit also launches at the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa annual Rendezvous Days.

September - Draft companion website under review by tribal leadership of the 11 federally-recognized tribes within Minnesota’s borders.

October  - Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Quarterly Board Meeting.  Humanities Center presents accompanying DVD, completed exhibit, and draft version of companion website, www.treatiesmatter.org.  Humanities Center gathers direction from tribal leadership on next steps.

Companion website www.treatiesmatter.org goes live.

Community Support for Why Treaties Matter: Self-government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations

I want to congratulate you for an outstanding exhibit, Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations. It informs and provokes critical thinking about the legacy of broken treaties, unfulfilled promises and the status of Native Americans today. I attended the grand opening in Becker County.

Yolanda Lara Arauza, Ph.D., Assistant Professor American Multicultural Studies
Minnesota State University Moorhead

My father had walked from Cass Lake, Minnesota to St. Paul to the capitol regarding treaties.  He wanted the governor to add treaties to Minnesota school curriculums.  My dad walked alone with his wife driving behind, he was in his 70’s when he walked in 2004.  He did not receive any support except by family and friends.  The governor did not meet with him.  He encountered mixed reactions on his walk, in the Brainerd area, garbage was thrown at him and was told to go back to the reservation, while others waved at him and honked.  My father is a Korean Veteran with 5 Purple Hearts, very decorated, was a traditional dancer, he operated a small program to help other vets…

I’m writing this because I see my dad’s vision in this traveling exhibit…it may not be in the school curriculum (yet!), this is wonderful –thanks.

Beryl Rock
Community Member

We are excited to bring the “Why Treaties Matter” exhibit to south Minneapolis, home to one of the largest American Indian populations in the state.  Treaties are living documents that remain relevant today and far into the future.  It is critical that all people understand this history and the relevance of these legal agreements, particularly in a state and region that has been shaped by them.  Finally, it is important that young American Indian people have an opportunity to view this exhibition, sparking interest and curiosity in one of the most important aspects of US and tribal histories.

Justin Kii Huenemann
Former President and CEO
Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI)

Miigwech for letting us host the exhibit. It has been an excellent addition to several of our courses. … I used the DVD [A Day in the Life of Tribal Nations in Minnesota,] in one of my courses also…. Most excellent collaboration.

Elaine Fleming
Leech Lake Tribal College

The exhibit was very well received here in Bemidji.  Those that took the time to spend at least 30-45 minutes at exhibit were all very impressed and often commented, “I did not know that!”  One of the more interesting groups was a class of Art students that were looking at art as a way to tell the story.  Being with them made me understand how impressive the exhibit was and how the designers did such a great job putting the whole thing together. The touch screen worked out very well when people took the time to use it.  Real learning then took place... The local elected officials that viewed the exhibit were impressed and, in the future, will probably not look at "treaty issues" in the same way.

Paul Swenson
Bemidji Area Race Relations/Shared Vision