Our Home: Native Minnesota

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Lead Release

‘Our Home: Native Minnesota’ Opens Dec. 7, 2019, at Minnesota History Center

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 17, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org or Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

‘Our Home: Native Minnesota’ Opens Dec. 7, 2019, at Minnesota History Center

New exhibit highlights the resiliency and strength of Native nations, communities and individuals.

Minnesota is a Dakota word that describes the reflection of the sky onto water, a well-known image in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This is Dakota homeland and Dakota people, and Ojibwe people who also call Minnesota home, are thriving here today. 

Native Americans—Dakota, Ojibwe, as well as people from other tribal nations—have been in this area for thousands of years and still live in Minnesota now. The new exhibit “Our Home: Native Minnesota,” opening Dec. 7, 2019, at the Minnesota History Center shares their stories, and their enduring presence and deep connection to the land.

“We constantly hear from visitors and teachers that Native stories are fundamental to understanding Minnesota history,” said Kent Whitworth, MNHS director and CEO. “And now we have a permanent gallery devoted to the stories of today’s Native communities. These are inspirational stories of survival, resistance and resilience that offer hope for the future. These stories show how Native people have retained cultural practices, teachings and values, and an essential connection to home.”

The exhibit uses historic and contemporary photographs, maps and artifacts to illustrate Dakota and Ojibwe life and relationships throughout history as well as long-held connections to the land. These artifacts include a star quilt made in 2014 by Gwen Westerman that references Dakota cosmology; items used by Ojibwe ancestors and people today to harvest wild rice and fish; and a panorama photograph from 1912 of the annual White Earth (Ojibwe) celebration with members of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota) in attendance. 

The exhibit is told in first person to demonstrate to visitors that Native people are connected to their past and are still here in Minnesota today. Much of the exhibit text is presented in Dakota, Ojibwe and English. “Our Home: Native Minnesota” is a long-term exhibit that will incorporate new content every few years.

“Our Home: Native Minnesota” opens with a free family day, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Visitors can enjoy acoustic music with Mitch Walking Elk, hoop dance performances by the Sampson Brothers, demonstrations of birch-bark biting artwork with Denise Lajimodiere and traditional games like kansu kutepi (dice game), tasiha (ring and pin) and cankawacipi (spinning tops) with Jeremy Red Eagle. 

For more information, visit www.mnhs.org/ourhome.

Exhibit and Program Support
“Our Home: Native Minnesota” is made possible in part by the Legacy Amendment through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

Opening weekend activities are supported by major sponsor, U.S. Bank, and associate sponsors 3M and Ecolab.

Major support is also being provided by the Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation, the George Family Foundation, the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, the Hardenbergh Foundation, and Lucy Rosenberry Jones and James Johnson with additional support from the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, Thomas J. Arneson, the Athwin Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, Alta Marie Oben, and the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation.

Location and Hours
The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.

Admission
Admission to “Our Home: Native Minnesota” is included with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, veterans/active military and college students, $6 ages 5 to 17; free age 4 and under and MNHS members. Buy tickets online.

About the Minnesota History Center
The Minnesota History Center houses the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and is home to the History Center museum with innovative exhibits, Gale Family Library, café and museum store. The History Center is located at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul. For more information, visit www.minnesotahistorycenter.org

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by Premier Partner Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Exhibit Experience

Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit Experience

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 17, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org or Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit Experience

“Our Home: Native Minnesota” opens Dec. 7, 2019, at the Minnesota History Center. This 2,700-square-foot exhibit features multimedia pieces, hands-on interactives and rare artifacts. 

The exhibit is organized around six sections: Dakota homeland, Ojibwe homeland, relationships and identities, enduring connections, resiliency and agency, and service to community.

Highlights include:

  • A star quilt designed in 2014 by Gwen Westerman (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) welcomes visitors
  • Videos that introduce Dakota and Ojibwe history with oral histories and contemporary interviews with Dakota and Ojibwe community members
  • Dakota and Ojibwe place names projected on the floor throughout the exhibit and a touchscreen map where visitors can explore how place names are pronounced 
  • A multimedia presentation in the center of the exhibit provides a place to reflect on Native people’s enduring connections to the land
  • A 1912 photo of the annual celebration of the White Earth Reservation (Ojibwe) with Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota) in attendance. Visitors are invited to help identify family members in the photo
  • Handcrafted textiles including basketry, leather, bead and quillwork from the late 1700s through the early 1900s
  • An Ojibwe men’s moccasin game set and items that speak to women’s cultural practices, like a cradleboard and clothing made by Dakota women
  • A military uniform shirt from Sgt. Shirley Quentin Red Boy who used Dakota language to help the US send messages during World War II
  • Profiles of Native people today who are bringing back traditional foodways and lifeways through gardens, innovative restaurants and food trucks, and education-based nonprofits
  • Unpublished images from the Star Tribune of the Wokiksuye Ride in 2012, which honors the 38+2 Dakota men who were hanged following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Consultants to the exhibit include members of the MNHS Indian Advisory Committee and Native educators from St. Paul Indian Education, Minneapolis Indian Education, Bdote Learning Center and the University of Minnesota.

Related Resources

Our Home: Native Minnesota Related Resources

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 17, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org or Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

Our Home: Native Minnesota Related Resources

MNHS has available a number of Native American resources, including books, articles, web pages, research guides, collections and educational materials.

MNHS Press books:

Minnesota History articles:

MNopedia articles:

Collections resources:

Collections-based programs

  • Native American Artist-in-Residence
    Native American Artist-in-Residences are exposed to the MNHS collections to advance their understanding of the traditional form of art and bring this advanced understanding to their communities in a way designed by the artist.

Education programs: 

  • Native American K-12 Education
    MNHS offers products, experiences and resources developed to engage students and broaden their knowledge around Native American history and culture. 
  • Native American Undergraduate Museum Fellowship
    Native American students gain valuable hands-on experience working in a museum setting as a way to help prepare them to continue their academic career in the cultural heritage field and to participate in national museum programs.
  • Heritage Studies and Public History Master’s Degree
    This master’s degree program from the University of Minnesota is presented in partnership with MNHS. Theory and practice are combined to foreground diversity, interdisciplinary inquiry, experiential learning and community engagement.

Explore these resources and more at www.mnhs.org.

Images

Our Home: Native Minnesota Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 17, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org or Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

Our Home: Native Minnesota Images

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers and online to promote “Our Home: Native Minnesota,” opening Dec. 7, 2019, at the Minnesota History Center. Credit information is listed.

 

“Star Knowledge” star quilt made by Gwen Westerman

The threads in this star quilt stitch together connections Native people have to the sky and connections they have to each other. Each of the star’s eight points represents a member of artist Gwen Westerman’s family.

“Star Knowledge” star quilt made by Gwen Westerman, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota), 2014

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Photograph of 44th annual celebration at White Earth Reservation

Members of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota) and White Earth (Ojibwe) reservations have been gathering together in celebration since 1867, the year both reservations were established.

44th annual celebration at White Earth Reservation. Photograph by Randolph R. Johnson June 14, 1912

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1862 Sung Ite Ha horse mask ​made by James Star Comes Out  2012

The horse is respected in Native communities. In the past, Native ancestors expressed honor and pride by decorating horses in their finest and giving them away as gestures of generosity honoring loved ones.

Star Comes Out created this piece to honor and remember what the 38 Dakota men who were hanged in 1862 went through so Native people can live and exist. The floral designs represent the values and way of life of the Dakota Oyate.

“1862 Sung Ite Ha” horse mask mMade by James Star Comes Out, Oglala Lakota, 2012

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Quilled birch bark box ​made by an Eastern Ojibwe artist about 1890

The art of porcupine quillwork is distinct to North America. The shape and use of this box resembles those made by Mi’kmaq relatives on the Atlantic coast in the late 1800s. The distinct floral designs, though, show that it was made by an Ojibwe artist.

 

Quilled birch bark box made by an Eastern Ojibwe artist, about 1890

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Quilled birch bark box made by Melvin Losh ​2010

Almost lost in recent times, the art of quillwork is being revived today. Artist Melvin Losh has been creating intricate designs like this lady’s slipper box for more than 50 years.

Quilled birch bark box made by Melvin Losh, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe​, ​2010

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Anti-treaty rights pins 1990-93

The Save Lake Mille Lacs Association comprised about 100 Minnesota sportsmen’s groups opposed to the Mille Lacs Band’s assertion of fishing rights guaranteed by the Treaty of 1837. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Anti-treaty rights pins from ​Save Lake Mille Lacs Association, 1990-93

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Ojibwe women at Leech Lake, ​1906

Christian missionaries began teaching what they viewed as “civilized” arts in Dakota and Ojibwe women’s sewing circles in the 1830s. By 1904, a program started by Episcopal missionary Sybil Carter that involved women at the White Earth, Red Lake and Leech Lake reservations was shipping Native-made lace to wealthy customers in cities like New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

Ojibwe women at Leech Lake, 1906

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Military shirt worn by Sgt. Shirley Quentin Red Boy 1940s

Shirley Quentin Red Boy (Wambdi Okiceta, 1921-2007) enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940. He served in the all-Native Company B of the 163rd Infantry, 41st Division where he and his friend Herman Red Elk were recruited to send official messages in Dakota language.

Sgt. Red Boy received many medals and honors for his service, and was a lifelong member of the Native American Veterans Association Wolf Point.

 

Military uniform shirt, cat # 265172.000. ​Worn by Sgt. Shirley Quentin Red Boy, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (Dakota), 1940s. Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

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Exhibit Developers

Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit Developers

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 17, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org or Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit Developers

Kate Beane head shot

Dr. Kate Beane, director, Native American Initiatives
Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux) holds a B.A. in American Indian Studies and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Previously, she served as a program and outreach manager at MNHS working with Dakota communities across the region. She currently teaches Dakota history at Minneapolis College, serves as a board member for the Native Governance Center, and is an urban Indian advisory board member for the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.

As the director of Native American Initiatives at MNHS, Beane helps to strategize engagement practices with regional Indigenous communities. She advises MNHS on best practices for incorporating Native perspectives and voices on projects throughout the institution and at historic sites.

Mattie Harper DeCarlo head shot

Dr. Mattie Harper DeCarlo, senior historian
DeCarlo (Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe) received her B.A. from Hamline University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. DeCarlo is a historian of the Great Lakes region of North America, U.S. settler colonialism and the construction of race and identity. Previously she served as a program and outreach manager of Native American Initiatives at MNHS working primarily with Ojibwe communities. She has also served as an assistant professor at UC San Diego in the Ethnic Studies department. 

As the senior historian at MNHS, DeCarlo guides and advises on MNHS interpretive content and conducts research and writing. She coordinates research projects, facilitates the incorporation of new scholarship into interpretive programs, and communicates the ways in which the institution reaches conclusions based on firm historical research. 

Additional MNHS exhibit developers include:

  • Rita Walaszek Arndt (White Earth Ojibwe), curatorial associate, Native American Collections
  • Ben Gessner, curator, Native American Collections