Minnesota Humanities Center

Host “Why Treaties Matter”

MHC acknowledges that the funding/granting process often creates barriers and fatigue. All of the information you will need to apply is below, but if you’d rather have a conversation with us, give us a call. We’ll walk you through it. Contact Trygve Throntveit, Director of Strategic Partnership at trygve@mnhum.org.

Contact Us

Trygve Throntveit

“Why Treaties Matter”: Program Description

“Why Treaties Matter” began when tribes residing in Minnesota approved a partnership between the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

We created the exhibit through a community-based approach. Since its inception, the knowledge, insight, and perspective of tribal members have been the exhibit’s foundation. From this foundation emerged a vehicle for Dakota and Ojibwe individuals and communities to tell their own stories of sovereignty, adaptability, and sustainability.

The current partners are the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Funding support: The “Why Treaties Matter” partners seek applications from potential host communities interested in utilizing the exhibit in two different ways:

  1. Community-engaged host site—These host sites develop public programming and/or interpretive or educational resources to complement their hosting of the exhibit with Dakota and/or Ojibwe scholars, cultural knowledge bearers, and/or community members. These scholars, cultural knowledge bearers, and/or community members may already work for your organization and/or be a part of your community. Or, your organization may choose to work with these people or organizations specifically in support of your hosting of “Why Treaties Matter.” Community-engaged host sites may receive contracts of up to $2,000 with the Minnesota Humanities Center to offset project costs. MHC will give preference to community-engaged host site applicants over general host site applicants.
    See what you would be responsible for and what MHC and its partners will provide.
  2. General host site—These host sites share the exhibit with their audiences but don’t have the capacity to develop public programming or interpretive or educational resources at this time. MHC will not support general host sites with additional funds. MHC will give preference to community-engaged host site applicants over general host site applicants.
    See what you would be responsible for and what MHC and its partners will provide.

Program Goals and Core Values

MHC offers a new way to think about our future — grounded in the humanities. We collaborate with organizations and people through education, partnerships, and public programs to inspire community conversations, forge deep connections, and illuminate authentic, diverse voices across the state — especially those left out, marginalized, or otherwise absent from our education and public awareness.

We help people listen, connect, and understand each other better — because we know isolation and division are dangerous. The Humanities Center’s approach affirms we’re all in this together — using philosophy, literature, civics, history, language, and more.


  • Communicate, in a meaningful and truthful way, the history of sovereignty and treaties between nations in Minnesota territory (and, later, the state of Minnesota) to educators, students, and the general public.
  • Improve the amount and quality of teacher instruction about American Indian histories and cultures in the project’s partner school districts.
  • Center indigenous knowledge and expertise in the hosting of the exhibition and community engagement activities.
  • Build relationships that will endure beyond the active exhibition period.

At the core of our work is the Absent Narratives Approach™, a values-driven framework for community engagement and collaboration. The four values ask us to put relationships with people at the center of community change-making and to center voices that have been absented. The four core values are:

  • Learn from and With Multiple Voices
  • Build and Strengthen Diverse Relationships
  • Recognize the Inequity (or Dangers) of a Single Story
  • Amplify Community Solutions for Change

Process and Program Timeline

Before applying to host Why Treaties Matter, please let us know about your interest and the dates you are considering so we can alert you if/when the exhibit is available.

Eligibility and State Funding Requirements

Who is eligible: Nonprofit organizations (with 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor that holds 501(c)(3) status), not-for-profit entities, tribal nations, and state/municipal public agencies such as K-12 schools, colleges/universities, or libraries are eligible to apply. All organizations must be based in Minnesota, in good standing with the IRS, and up to date on reporting and state requirements for any funds previously awarded by the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Note: In good standing with the IRS means that the organization has completed all reporting requirements and can therefore receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. We use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search to confirm IRS compliance.

Fund requirement: The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which underwrites this opportunity, requires that proposed and/or awarded funds support new work or new additions to existing work. These funds must supplement, not substitute, other funding sources.

The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund prohibits funds from being used to:

  • Start, match, add to, or complete any type of capital campaign
  • Support capital costs (such as improvements, construction, property, or equipment)
  • Pay for indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related and proportional to, and necessary for, the activities outlined in the program proposal
  • Cover expenditures incurred before the date we authorize you to begin work
  • Support benefits and fundraisers

If an organization or project does not meet all of the above requirements, we will not consider it.

How to Apply

Eligible organizations can submit Statements of Interest in any of the following formats: online form, postal mail, video, or phone message. You may also suggest an alternative method to MHC.

Statements of Interest, regardless of format, must include the following information:

  1. Organization name
  2. Organization legal entity (nonprofit, tribal nation, state/municipal public agency, organization with a fiscal sponsor, other not-for-profit entity)
  3. Organization address
  4. If applicable, organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or fiscal sponsor information
  5. Organization mission
  6. Project contact information (name, title, phone, and email)
  7. Organization authorized representative (name, title, phone, and email)
  8. Proposed exhibit venue/location, including address if different from applicant organization address
  9. Proposed exhibit start date
  10. Proposed exhibit end date
  11. I am interested in the
    • English copy of the exhibit
    • Dakhodiapi copy of the exhibit
    • Anishinaabemowin copy of the exhibit
  12. Tell us what you’d like us to know about your organization/community.
  13. What community/organizational goals would “Why Treaties Matter” help you meet?
  14. How will you achieve the program goals in your community?
  15. How will you implement the Absent Narratives ApproachTM in your community?
  16. Which scholars, cultural knowledge bearers, and/or community members will co-design your public programming, interpretive resources, and/or educational resources?
  17. Describe your public programming, interpretive resources, and/or educational resources. Or describe the goals you hope they will meet and the processes you will use to develop them.

Ready to submit?

  • Online form: Submit through our online form
  • Phone: Leave us a message at 651-772-4276
  • Email: Send your Statement of Interest to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Video: Email us a link to your video (no longer than 10 minutes) to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Postal mail: Postmark by the deadline to:Minnesota Humanities Center
    c/o Why Treaties Matter host community applications
    987 Ivy Avenue East
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55106

If you have questions or would like to submit your Statement of Interest in a way not mentioned above, contact Trygve Throntveit, Director of Strategic Partnership: trygve@mnhum.org.

Assessment Criteria

MHC will assess proposals on how well the host community will meet the program goals and integrate the Absent Narratives Approach™ practices during their hosting period.

We will also assess organizations applying as Community-engaged host sites on:

How well will the host community learn from relationships they will develop over the course of their hosting?

Programming and Resources
How meaningfully will the proposed public programming, interpretive resources, and/or educational resources add to visitors’ experiences with the exhibit?

In addition to the criteria above, we will give preference to organizations whose staff and board reflect the communities they serve, organizations led by indigenous people and people of color and/or organizations in greater Minnesota. MHC will give preference to community-engaged host site applicants over general host site applicants.