Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Vicki Gerdes

Treaty exhibit coming to museum


The Becker County Historical Society is busy making plans for its upcoming stint as a host site for a traveling exhibition from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit, “Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” will be at the Detroit Lakes museum from Oct. 3-31 — but prior to that, it will be making yet another stop in Becker County, at the White Earth Tribal Headquarters in White Earth village.

In fact, White Earth has been chosen as the host site for the exhibition grand opening on Aug. 3, noted Amy Degerstrom, director of the Becker County Historical Society and Museum in Detroit Lakes.

It will remain at the White Earth village site, 35500 Eagle View Road, through Aug. 31, after which it will begin a statewide tour that continues through 2012, to reservations and other historical venues such as the Detroit Lakes museum. The exhibit tour is being funded by the Minnesota Humanities Center and its partner, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.

“We have a particular connection to this exhibit in our county, because many of the members of the White Earth Tribal council were part of the research and information gathering that went into the project,” Degerstrom added.

“Our hope is that because we are lucky enough to have the exhibit in our county twice, more people will have the chance to see it, and we will have the opportunity to engage the public in interesting and meaningful discussions about what treaties have meant to the establishment of our county.”

Through a Minnesota Beautiful grant from Valspar, who will supply the paint, and a private donation of floor tiles, a portion of the Becker County Museum is being renovated specifically for the new exhibit when it arrives in October, Degerstrom noted.

“We do have some materials to work with, but we are looking for volunteer workers to help with the project,” she added. “Any electricians, plumbers or builders who might be interested in volunteering some time to help us, should contact the museum.

“We’d like to start in early August, so we have plenty of time before the exhibit needs to be installed,” Degerstrom continued.

In addition, the museum is looking for anyone who has a connection to the treaties that helped form Becker County and the White Earth Reservation that might be interested in facilitating “some brown bag lunch conversations” on the subject during the exhibit’s stay in Detroit lakes.

“We’d like to have some brown bag lunch conversations going on each week during the exhibit, to be held at The Depot (in Detroit Lakes),” said Degerstrom.

“It’s a huge part of our history,” she added. “It’s something we need to talk about, so we can better understand how these issues still affect the lives of people in this area. My ultimate hope is to have some very candid and open conversations about this. It’s part of our shared heritage, and we need to learn more about that heritage, from all sides of the issue.

“History isn’t always pretty and positive and friendly, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.”

By broaching the subject “in a mutually respectful way,” Degerstrom hopes to shed some light on the motivations behind what remains, for many, a very sensitive issue.

“The more you know about something, the more understanding there can be,” she said.

Anyone interested in contributing their time and talents to the upcoming exhibition, or any of the other programs and activities going on at the museum, is welcome to attend a volunteer open house at the museum on Wednesday, July 20 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

There will be behind-the-scenes tours of the museum, refreshments and information about volunteer opportunities available at the museum.

For more information, visit the Becker County Historical Society & Museum at 714 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, call Amy Degerstrom at 218-847-2938, or send e-mail to The museum also has a website at

More information about the traveling exhibit is also available online at the Minnesota Humanities Center website,


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