Research Guide for Native Community Members

Researching Native Government, Politics, & Treaties

Darwin S. Hall, Chippewa Commissioner, and Chippewa Indians from Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth Reservations, Washington, D.C. (MNHS call number: E97.51 m1)

In addition to serving as a historical society, MNHS also serves as the repository for the Minnesota State Archives. The Minnesota State Archives includes birth, marriage and death records that occur in the state of Minnesota. The State Archives also stores records from state run facilities such as prisons & hospitals. The Minnesota Historical Society does have limited access to federal records. Records that may be most relevant for Indigenous research in MN include treaty documents, legal files and materials relating to tribal affairs.  

There are also other resources available such as city and county directories.  City directories may be helpful in researching individuals or businesses. For example, those individuals who may be affiliated with the American Indian Movement or relocation programs. County directories may be helpful to research families and property on or near tribal communities. 

Examples of materials relating to government & politics: 

Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Subject Files, 1948-1991. Correspondence, reports, and related materials covering such general topics as affirmative action, business and economic development, education, welfare, civil rights, chemical dependency, genealogy, housing, archaeology, hunting/fishing/trapping regulations, mental health, and law enforcement. MNHS call number: Digital finding Aid

Legal files relating to Minnesota Ojibwe bands, 1887-2010 (bulk 1971-1988). Litigation and subject files relating to various Ojibwe bands and reservations in Minnesota, including the Red Lake, Leech Lake, White Earth, Grand Portage, Bois Forte, and Fond du Lac bands. Most documents relate to court cases that went to the state Supreme Court and concern such issues as hunting and fishing rights, tribe-issued motor vehicle licenses, regulation of handguns, tribal courts, and ceded restored lands. MNHS call number: Digital finding aid

Four years of progress : The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, 2000-2003 Waniyetu Topa Wooyake. MNHS call number: E99.M435 S5314 2004). An overview of the progress made in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community during the years 2000-2003. Reports include overviews of the Shakopee Mdwakanton Emergency Services Department, the Gaming Commission, Community Health, and Cultural Resources. 

Minnesota Council on Indian Affairs. The mission of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) is to protect the sovereignty of the 11 Minnesota Tribes and to ensure the well-being of the American Indian citizens throughout the state of Minnesota. Their website contains a wealth of information including a history each Tribal Nation in Minnesota, resources focusing on American Indian culture in Minnesota, language revitalization, and education. It also includes links to presentations by the 2022 TRUTH (Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing) Project fellows for the majority of the Tribal Nations in Minnesota. 

Examples of materials related to treaties:

Tribal Treaties Database. Oklahoma Sate University Libraries. This database includes agreements between tribal nations and the United States (1778-1886) published in the 1904 work “Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties” (Volume II), compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. As you view the treaties in this database, editorial margin notes are included. Links to Kappler’s original text and digitized treaties held at the National Archives can also be found throughout the site. Finally, a recently updated, comprehensive index complements this work.

Viewing American Indian Treaties. Resource of digitized original treaties available through the National Archives. 

Suggested keywords to search in our library and archives catalog and Collections Online database for additional materials related to Native government and treaties:

  • Dakota Indian(s)
  • Dakota Treaty (Treaties)
  • Indian Government

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