Research Guide for Native Community Members

Purpose of Guide


                                       Indians gathering wild rice. MNHS call number: E97.32W r12

Minnesota is Dakota and Ojibwe homeland. Dakota creation stories are centered in Mni Sota, and this regional territory is also an important place in traditional Ojibwe history, as well as those of other tribal nations. Today, Minnesota is both an ancestral and contemporary home to many Native people, including eleven Dakota and Ojibwe tribal Nations. This guide is designed to assist Indigenous community members conducting research at the Minnesota Historical Society.

The Minnesota Historical Society utilizes varied terminology when referring to Indigenous peoples. Some of the terms you might encounter include: 

  • Indian
  • Native American
  • Dakota
  • Ojibwe/Ojibwa/Ojibway 
  • Sioux
  • Chippewa
  • Anishinaabe 

Popular Topics


Land Acknowledgements

Ta-ku-wa-kan ti-pi = "Dwelling place of the gods" : the Dakota homeland in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area by Paul C. Durand ; illustrations by Rene E. Durand. MNHS call number: E99.D1 D77 1982

A guide to Indigenous Land AcknowledgementResource from the Native Governance Center. Created in October 2019. This Indigenous land acknowledgment resource was created based on an event which was co-hosted with the Lower Phalen Creek Project on Indigenous Peoples' Day 2019. 

We Are All on Native Land: A Conversation about Land Acknowledgments: Video conversation hosted by the Field Museum about land acknowledgments on October 12, 2020. The discussion includes the custom of land acknowledgments; their importance, complexities, and evolution; and what actions can follow a land acknowledgment. 

Click on the map of Minnesota to learn more about American Indian tribal governments through the Minnesota Department of Health website




Boarding Schools

Andrew J. Volstead and family papers, 1868-1955. The Volstead papers include information on the boarding school in Morris, MN. MNHS Digital Finding Aid

Oral history interview with Rose Whipple Bluestone. A Dakota woman shares stories from her childhood which includes attending three different boarding schools. MNHS Call number: Oral History OH 24 Digital Version

Indian education and bureaucracy : the school at Morris, 1887-1909 by Wilbert H. Ahern. Article Link

The Vermilion Lake Indian School : from assimilation to termination by Linda LeGarde Grover. Article Link

Native American Boarding Schools MNopedia article by Dr. Denise K. Lajimodiere

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Organization sharing resources related to boarding schools in the United States.


Indigenous Foodways

Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians / [as told to] Gilbert L. Wilson. MNHS call number: E99.H6 W337 1987 or can purchase here

Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest by Heid E. Erdrich. MNHS call number: E98.F7 E735 2013 or can purchase here

The Good Berry Cookbook: Harvesting and Cooking Wild Rice and Other Wild Foods by Tashia Hart. MNHS call number: TX809.W55 H36 2021 or can purchase here

North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NāTIFS). Founded by James Beard award winners The Sioux Chef, is dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways.

Collections Online Link to Artifacts Relating to Indigenous Foodways


American Indian Movement (AIM)

American Indian Movement (AIM) Research Guide

American Indian Movement (AIM) MNopedia Article


MNHS NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act) Policy

The Minnesota Historical Society follows and maintains compliance with the Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act.  In addition, there is a set procedure MNHS follows with culturally sensitive objects.  There are consultations available for representatives of Federally recognized tribes pertinent to NAGPRA.  For more information on NAGPRA click here.

Research Options

A list of MN county and town historical societies, with contact info and web links

A genealogy website with records from all over the world. Access requires a subscription. Visit the MNHS Library to use our subscription.

A free family history site that allows you to search records from around the world.

Guide Author

Nicholas Kennedy
MNHS Native American Initiatives

MNHS Reference Staff

reading room bookshelves


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