‘Why Treaties Matter’ coming to East Side Freedom Library

Exhibit opens March 24

Treaties are a large part of historical and modern Minnesota, but often aren’t well understood. 

To help educate the state and its people, the traveling exhibit “Why Treaties Matter: Self Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” was created. It will be making a stop at the East Side Freedom Library, opening March 24.

The exhibit is being hosted in partnership with the Lower Phalen Creek Project and the Minnesota Humanities Center.  

The exhibit includes a number of educational displays, an interactive website — www.treatiesmatter.org — as well as a series of events with East Side indigenous leaders and youth. 


Learning from the community

A partnership to create the project was established in 2010 between the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and was approved by Minnesota tribes.

Its goal is to highlight not only the historic aspects of treaties, but how treaties continue to affect sovereign indigenous communities and land to this day. It also teaches about the connections to the land and the spirituality that Dakota and Ojibwe people experience in their homeland, called Bdote.

Maggie Lorenz, Wakan Tipi director and executive director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, said understanding treaties and their impact is especially important for the East Side, which at one point was the location of Kaposia Village, an important Dakota settlement located on the Mississippi River beneath the bluffs that make up Dayton’s Bluff, which is still home to a number of indigenous burial mounds. 

“Anyone, native and nonnative, can learn from this exhibit,” said Lorenz, adding that as a native person herself, there’s still a lot she doesn’t understand about treaties and their impacts. “I think people will be able to come away with an understanding of the affect the treaties have on daily lives and whose land they are on.”

Chelsea DeArmond, who trained through the Minnesota Humanities Center to host the exhibit, said it isn’t just about learning history, but also about making community connections.  

“It’s more than just information, it’s about how we relate to each other in the community and in our homeland,” she said. 

The exhibit opens on Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m., with smudge burning, drumming, spoken word and music.

Oyate Teca will provide an opening song and youth dancers from Wakinyan Luta Dance Society will also share their dances. Dakota elder and historian Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, who has studied the impact of treaties, will also speak at the event. 

The second event of the series will include a panel discussion on Sunday, March 31, at 2 p.m., facilitated by Barry Frantum with indigenous youth talking about their views on this history and how it affects them today. Youth involved will include Nolan Berglund, Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman, Alyssa Parkhurt, Jada Aljubailah, Summer DuMarce and Reuben Kitto-Stately. 

There will also be events on Sundays April 14 and 21, which will include panel discussions between recent immigrants and indigenous community members on the intersections between the two. 

Check www.eastsidefreedomlibrary.org for updates on the events. The East Side Freedom Library is located at 1105 Greenbrier St.


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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