Minnesota Historical Society's department of Native American
Initiatives is creating a new permanent exhibit focusing on Native
Americans in Minnesota.
The exhibit is slated to open in fall 2019 at the Minnesota
History Center. The exhibit will feature the history of the Ojibwe
and Dakota, from ancient to contemporary works, and recognize the
Ho-Chunk legacy in Minnesota. Using Western research methodologies
and Native cultural stories, the depth and breadth of the collection
and archives, this new gallery will guide visitors through the stories
of Minnesota's first inhabitants, their history, cultural traditions
and what it means to live in the state.
The exhibit is just one of many projects being undertaken by
the new Native American Initiatives department. Created in December
2016, the department is charged with developing and implementing
a strategy for Native American programs and services in collaboration
with Native American communities throughout the state and beyond.
The Minnesota Historical Society hopes this collaboration will result
in programs that better represent and honor Native American peoples,
stories and experiences at historic sites and museums, a news release
Minnesota Historical Society hired Joe Horse Capture to serve
as director of the new department. Horse Capture is a member of
the A'aninin tribe of Montana and has worked as a curator at the
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and
at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
"Cultural institutions are in a unique position to collaborate
with Native communities to better share their rich stories, especially
since many institutions have the objects their Ancestors created,"
he said. "As stewards of this cultural material, it is our obligation
to work with Native communities as partners to share these stories
and history with a diverse audience. This type of partnership can
be very profound."
The Native American Initiatives department works closely with
the Indian Advisory Committee, which has provided input and guidance
on MNHS activities and initiatives related to Minnesota and Native
American history for more than 25 years. The department is also
charged with managing historic sites and museums with Native American
interpretive content at three sites: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and
Trading Post, Jeffers Petroglyphs and Lower Sioux Agency.
The following are two additional initiatives the council is
- The creation of a Dakota Community Council, known as a wi'wahokichiyapi
or partnership, made up of Dakota members from Minnesota and surrounding
states. The DCC's objective is to ensure that Dakota people, history,
perspectives and homelands are honored and sustained at MNHS properties
within an area defined by the first treaty between the United
States and the Dakota people in 1805.
- Gathering community feedback about how to preserve for the
future the Grand Mound historic site located near International
Falls. The Minnesota Historical Society closed the site in 2002
following a steep reduction in state funding.