Our Living Culture
This exhibit displays an array of stunning contemporary powwow outfits and related activities.
Making a Living
Learn about the many ways Ojibwe people have endured economically through the past century.
Nation Within a Nation
Explore how the people of Mille Lacs have asserted the rights of sovereignty and self-governance.
The Ayer Collection
The exhibits showcase objects from the Ayer Collection, a collection of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe crafts. A changing display highlights objects from the 2,200-piece collection, including bandolier bags, moccasins, and birch bark baskets. The objects were collected by Harry and Jeanette Ayer, who ran a fishing resort and trading post on the site from 1918 to 1958.
Learn more about the Ayer Ojibwa Collection
The museum includes a spacious crafts room, which serves as a training and demonstration area for beadwork, birch bark basketry, basswood dyeing, embroidery, and traditional cooking. The crafts room connects to an outdoor program area featuring demonstrations of wild ricing, maple sugar processing, traditional dancing, and tipi and canoe building.
The museum also has classroom/meeting space for rental and outside picnic areas that overlook beautiful Mille Lacs Lake.
About the museum
The museum was the product of a partnership between the Minnesota Historical Society and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Both groups worked together to select a location, an architectural firm, and the content of the exhibits. As a result, the expectations successfully merged in a museum designed to conserve precious artifacts and incorporate the beauty of its setting to tell the band's history.
The museum opened in May 1996. Fashioned in cedar and other traditional north woods materials, the exterior is highlighted with a copper dome and corrugated copper columns. An inset tile belt of blue oak leaves, designed by Mille Lacs elder Batiste Sam, was based on a beaded belt featured in the museum. The architects designed the building to acknowledge its environment, with the building's arching window wall reflecting the shoreline of Lake Mille Lacs.