Healing Minnesota Stories has launched an on-line petition to state leaders with the self-explanatory title: Make the Minnesota State Capitol More Welcoming: Remove Offensive Art, Add Inspiring Art.
Please read the petition and, as you are moved, sign it and circulate it to your friends and networks.
The issue is coming to a head. As many of you know, the Minnesota State Capitol is undergoing a major renovation and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change. The Minnesota State Capitol Preservation Commission, a major decision-maker in this process, appointed an Art Subcommittee, charging it with making recommendations about current and future art. The issue has pretty much flown under the radar, but the Art Subcommittee’s Monday hearing drew a few reporters, including Channel 11, which filed this account: Panel Ponders Depictions of Dakota People at Capitol.
The Art Subcommittee will soon announce a series of statewide public hearings. These hearings will be the best opportunity for Native voices and other members of the public to be heard. Hearings are expected in Duluth, Bemidji, Mankato, Rochester and several in the metro areas. At the request of Rep. Dean Urdahl, another hearing could be added to west central Minnesota. These hearings could start as early as late October. We will publicize the details when they are made available.
The Art Subcommittee is expected to make preliminary recommendations in January. It’s final report will go to the full Capitol Preservation Commission.
For more information:
- Art Subcommittee Website
- Healing Minnesota Stories Indians in Public Art: Myths and Misconceptions website
- Healing Minnesota Stories Capitol Art blog
Fort Snelling Revamp: How Will the Impact on Native American History Be Told?
In a parallel story, Minnesota Public Radio reported this week that Fort Snelling will get a makeover in anticipation of its 200-year anniversary. (The project depends on state bonding support that will be sought during the upcoming legislative session.) Similar to the capitol renovation, the Fort Snelling project creates an opportunity to expand the traditional narrative.
MPR notes that Fort Snelling’s 1820 opening “marks the acceleration of Native American displacement and is known among the Dakota as the place where many Native Americans were imprisoned and later removed from their homes following the US-Dakota War of 1862.” It also the place where Dred Scott lived his case for freedom from slavery went to the Supreme Court in 1857.
The Fort Snelling renovation is another project to watch to see how some of the most troubling chapters of Minnesota history will be told.