Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is hosting “Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” a traveling exhibition that explores the Native nations in Minnesota and their history of treaty making with the United States. The exhibit opened in the college’s amphitheater on February 22, where it will be on view through March 9, 2016. The self-guided exhibit is open to the public during regular campus building hours, and there is no admission fee.
The exhibit includes 20 free-standing banners with text, historical and contemporary photographs and maps, and a ten-minute video titled “A Day in the Life of the Minnesota Tribal Nations.”
The exhibit reveals how Dakota and Ojibwe treaties with the U.S. government affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of the place now called Minnesota, and explains why these binding agreements between nations still matter today. The exhibit is meant to share cultural information with all Minnesotans, that individuals may understand the circumstances surrounding Minnesota land, its use, and the treatment of the land’s indigenous peoples today.
“In order to create the vibrant Minnesota of the future we need to understand the importance of the agreements—the treaties—between the sovereign Indian nations and the United States,” said Minnesota Humanities Center President David O’Fallon. “Understanding these treaties is important now—it affects how we live—and will shape the future. The Minnesota Humanities Center is honored and excited to be a partner in this important program.”
“The history of Indian treaties is the history of all Minnesotans and all Americans,” says Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. “Even now, states, native nations, and the federal government continue to engage on a government-to-government basis every day, making in effect new treaties, building upon those made many years ago. We cannot have a complete understanding of what it means to be Americans without knowing about these relationships, whether we are Native Americans or not.”
Following its close at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the exhibition will continue on a northern Minnesota tour during March through May to Floodwood, Ely, and Hill City, under the auspices of the Minnesota Humanities Center and its partner, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.
“Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations” is a collaboration of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. The project was developed with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008, and the Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation. The current tour was made possible by a partnership with Itasca Community College and the Circle of Healing, with additional support from the Blandin Foundation, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the Northland Foundation.
For more information, see the website at www.treatiesmatter.org.

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