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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Minnesota Historical Society Launches Native American Cultural Initiatives
by Brainerd Dispatch

Minnesota Historical Society's department of Native American Initiatives is creating a new permanent exhibit focusing on Native Americans in Minnesota.

The exhibit is slated to open in fall 2019 at the Minnesota History Center. The exhibit will feature the history of the Ojibwe and Dakota, from ancient to contemporary works, and recognize the Ho-Chunk legacy in Minnesota. Using Western research methodologies and Native cultural stories, the depth and breadth of the collection and archives, this new gallery will guide visitors through the stories of Minnesota's first inhabitants, their history, cultural traditions and what it means to live in the state.

The exhibit is just one of many projects being undertaken by the new Native American Initiatives department. Created in December 2016, the department is charged with developing and implementing a strategy for Native American programs and services in collaboration with Native American communities throughout the state and beyond. The Minnesota Historical Society hopes this collaboration will result in programs that better represent and honor Native American peoples, stories and experiences at historic sites and museums, a news release stated.

Minnesota Historical Society hired Joe Horse Capture to serve as director of the new department. Horse Capture is a member of the A'aninin tribe of Montana and has worked as a curator at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

"Cultural institutions are in a unique position to collaborate with Native communities to better share their rich stories, especially since many institutions have the objects their Ancestors created," he said. "As stewards of this cultural material, it is our obligation to work with Native communities as partners to share these stories and history with a diverse audience. This type of partnership can be very profound."

The Native American Initiatives department works closely with the Indian Advisory Committee, which has provided input and guidance on MNHS activities and initiatives related to Minnesota and Native American history for more than 25 years. The department is also charged with managing historic sites and museums with Native American interpretive content at three sites: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, Jeffers Petroglyphs and Lower Sioux Agency.

The following are two additional initiatives the council is implementing:

  • The creation of a Dakota Community Council, known as a wi'wahokichiyapi or partnership, made up of Dakota members from Minnesota and surrounding states. The DCC's objective is to ensure that Dakota people, history, perspectives and homelands are honored and sustained at MNHS properties within an area defined by the first treaty between the United States and the Dakota people in 1805.

  • Gathering community feedback about how to preserve for the future the Grand Mound historic site located near International Falls. The Minnesota Historical Society closed the site in 2002 following a steep reduction in state funding.
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