Smithsonian & Minnesota Organizations Team Up

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An image from the exhibit: An American Indian child taking part in a wild ricing event.
The exhibit runs Sept. 29-Oct. 4 at UMD's Tweed Museum of Art

Minnesota is at the Heart of "Why Treaties Matter" Exhibi

The traveling exhibit, “Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” will be on display from Tuesday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 4 at the Tweed Museum of Art on the UMD campus. The exhibit, like the Tweed, is free and open to the public

The Smithsonian Partners with Minnesota Organizations

This exhibition is part of a statewide tour throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. In 2010, a resolution creating a unique partnership between the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. was approved by tribes in Minnesota, making it possible for the exhibition to be developed as an educational tool for Minnesota audiences.

The exhibition includes 20 free-standing banner displays with explanatory text, historical and contemporary photographs and maps, and a 10-minute video entitled, “A Day in the Life of the Minnesota Tribal Nations.”

Tribal Leaders Informed the Displays

Treaties, particularly land cessation treaties signed between the Dakota and Ojibwe people and the United States government in the 1800s, are particularly relevant to the descendants of the Dakota and Ojibwe, who still live, hunt, farm, and fish in many of the same places their ancestors resided. Organizers hope that all Minnesotans who view the exhibit will better understand the true circumstances surrounding Minnesota land, its use, and the treatment of the area’s Indigenous peoples from the past up to the present.

From the project's inception, the knowledge, insight, and perspective of tribal members was the foundation of the exhibit. Their authentic Dakota and Ojibwe stories of sovereignty, adaptability, and sustainability gave power to the information.

The exhibit reveals how Dakota and Ojibwe treaties with the U.S. government affected the lands and lives of the Indigenous peoples of the place now called Minnesota and explains treaty implications in the 21st century. The images and text reveal how the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples’ relationship with their homelands is rooted in cultural history and spirituality, including a powerful sense that they are related to everything that surrounds them.

Honoring Gifts to UMD

The "Why Treaties Matter" exhibit will coincide with a special event at the Tweed Museum of Art designed to honor the important resources donors have provided to UMD to support research, teaching, and learning. These resources, including books and archival video materials, are available in the American Indian Learning Resource Center and the Kathryn A. Martin Library's Archives and Special Collections.

This special event, "Honoring Our Givers" will be held, Tuesday, Sept. 29 at the Tweed starting at 6 pm and will feature UMD Chancellor Lendley Black, Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver, and independent filmmaker Lorraine Norrgard. For information about the "Honoring Our Givers" event, call UMD's American Indian Learning Resource Center at 218-726-6379.

For More Information

Educator guides are available and general information can be found at

For more information about the exhibit at the Tweed, contact:
Rick Smith, American Indian Learning Resource Center, at 218-726-6293 or
Monica Ares, American Indian Learning Resource Center, at 726-6379 or
Matthew Rosendahl, Kathryn A. Martin Library, at 218-726-6562 or
Anneliese Verhoeven, Tweed Museum of Art,

Written by Cheryl Reitan, September 2015.

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Cheryl Reitan,

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