Ojibwe and Dakota people in what is now Minnesota signed dozens of treaties with the United States. Among these treaties are famous land cession agreements in which sovereign American Indian groups retained ownership or use of natural resources – land, water, timber, minerals – or transferred these rights to the U.S.

But treaties are about more than who owns what. They tell a story about how people relate to one another, and how people relate to the land. In these frequently-misunderstood events, we find a contrast between different ways of looking at the world: material progress versus sustainability; business relationships versus family relationships; land as privately owned real estate, versus land as our connection to something bigger than our individual selves.

This website presents information on relationships that shaped some of the most transformative events in the history of the continent – the U.S. treaties with Dakota and Ojibwe people.

Dakota Intro

Ojibwe Intro

“The history of Indian treaties is the history of all Minnesotans and all Americans. […] We cannot have a complete understanding of what it means to be Americans without knowing about these relationships, whether we are Native Americans or not."

—Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

“All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”

—Article 6, U.S. Constitution