Minnesota Humanities Center

Reflecting on Native-led Humanities Activities Throughout Mni Sota

Posted November 1, 2022

Háŋ! Boozhoo! Welcome to Native American Heritage Month! This period of recognition, reflection, and celebration is set aside by the U.S. Federal government to recognize the Indigenous peoples of this place, who governed themselves as citizens of many sovereign nations, long before European colonizers were intent upon living here.

In Mni Sota—the land where the waters reflect the clouds—we’re living in a place where the treaties between Dakota and Ojibwe people and the U.S. Federal government were not honored, and in the aftermath of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, Congress passed a law exiling Dakota people from this state.

Despite this history, Indigenous peoples in Minnesota preserve, revitalize, and share cultural knowledge, history, and practices every day. A couple of examples of how Indigenous people are sharing cultural knowledge, history, and practices include:

Native Governance Center (NGC) has produced three videos that explain “Why Sovereignty Matters,” “Why Treaties Matter,” and “Why Tribal Governments Matter.” NGC produces many additional resources including material to help non-Native people and organizations move beyond making land acknowledgements to becoming a good relative and creating action plans. NGC focuses on leadership development for Native people, tribal governance support, and compelling community engagement programming.

The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council’s (MIAC) Dakota and Ojibwe Languages Symposium gathers language revitalization practitioners to form bonds, learn best practices, and celebrate the successes of preserving, learning, and teaching Dakhóta and Anishinaabemowin. MIAC also provides Dakota and Ojibwe language revitalization grants on behalf of the State of Minnesota. MIAC also developed the Minnesota Native American Lives series, three biographies of inspirational leaders written for 3rd-5th grade students.

Dakota Wicohan’s Mni Sota Makoce curriculum is a robust curriculum that provides historical and cultural context of Minnesota as a Dakota place as well as asking students to examine their own connections to the land.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa community experts are co-creating learning experiences for the Duluth and Cloquet Public School Districts. Learning from Place: Misaabekong was launched in Duluth this past summer and learning experiences to expand language arts, social studies, math, and science curriculum to encompass Ojibwe knowledge and history is currently being developed for Cloquet.

MHC is proud to have played a supporting role in amplifying the above efforts. MHC remains committed to helping support the stories, culture, and history of Tribal Nations that share geography with Minnesota and are pleased to serve as the host for the 2022 Governor and Tribal Leaders Summit in December.

Later this month, on November 29, Bemidji State University’s American Indian Resource Center will examine treaties from Native perspectives in “Treaties, Strategies, and Traditionalism with Dr. Dennis Fisher.” Dr. Fisher is a scholar of Algonquin politics and political activism. If you’re in the Bemidji area on November 29, please join us!

Learn from and support Native-led organizations this month and year-round.

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Jennifer Tonko Headshot
By: Jennifer Tonko

Jennifer Tonko is a Humanities Officer for Minnesota Humanities Center and a program lead for We Are Water MN and Why Treaties Matter.