New Exhibit Highlights the Resiliency and Strength of Native People

Ojibwe women at Leech Lake ​1906

Published September 23, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. — 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.”

Quilled birch bark box ​Made by an Eastern Ojibwe artist About 1890

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.

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

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