(The following is a press release from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
A new display is now available for viewing in the gallery at the SMSC Community Center. Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations is a traveling exhibit that explores the history of treaty making between the United States and Minnesota's Dakota and Ojibwe Nations.
The exhibit runs through December 20, 2012, in the Community Center Gallery during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Then it will move to the Gallery in the lobby of the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel where it will be open around the clock December 21, 2012, through January 31, 2013.
This exhibit was produced within a partnership of the Minnesota Humanities Center, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. A statewide tour of the exhibit to reservations and other venues opened at the White Earth Tribal Headquarters in August 2011.
A resolution creating a unique partnership of 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 unanimously by the tribes residing in Minnesota. This resolution made it possible for the exhibition to be developed as an educational tool for Minnesota audiences.
The exhibition includes 20 free standing banners with evocative text, historical and contemporary photographs and maps, and a 10-minute video titled, “A Day in the Life of the Minnesota Tribal Nations.” The video features comments from the late SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks as well as others.
This exhibit reveals how Dakota and Ojibwe treaties with the U.S. government affected the lands and lifeways of the Indigenous peoples of the place we now call Minnesota, and explains why these binding agreements between nations still matter today. It is meant to share important cultural information with all Minnesotans, that they may better understand the true circumstances surrounding Minnesota land, its use, and even the treatment of the land’s Indigenous peoples today.
SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig spoke about the issue, "The treaty exhibit is a way to remind ourselves and our neighbors that who we are today is influenced by the sacrifices our ancestors made. The Mdewakanton were recognized as sovereign, and the United States was required to negotiate with us. Our governmental status today is because of that sovereignty. We welcome everyone to come see about this important part of our mutual history.”
“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," said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), 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."
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 is funded in part 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.