Smithsonian American Indian exhibit coming to Riverland
There’s a great gathering coming soon to Riverland Community College.
Riverland will host the Smithsonian Museum’s American Indian Treaties Exhibit from Oct. 23 to Nov. 23. The traveling exhibit, sponsored by the Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, will make one of its first stops outside of reservations at Riverland this year.
“It’s just a really great opportunity to come to the college and experience history,” said Danielle Heiny, Riverland’s director of retention and human services. “It’s also a wonderful way to build community.”
The exhibit is part of a concerted effort to broaden Riverland’s diversity. The college is well-known amongst the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System for serving international students’ needs and has hosted gallery exhibits before, but never a traveling museum display. The exhibit, according to Heiny, is the first of several initiatives to make Riverland a beacon of diversity in the area.
“(This is) to position the college as a center for dialogue and additional education about diversity,” Heiny said. “There’s just so many aspects of diversity in our region.”
That diversity includes a history of Dakota and Ojibwe settlement, although there are very few Native Americans in Mower County. The exhibit, which deals with Dakota and Ojibwe issues like the conflicts between the Native American nations and the U.S. government, stewardship and the treatment of Native Americans, brings up several race-related issues pertinent to modern-day diversity.
“It’s a great thing,” said Dustin Heckman, executive director of the Mower County Historical Society. “In this area there’s some interesting history, but without the constant presence of Native Americans there’s not many people that know about it.”
The MCHS, along with the Austin Public Library and KSMQ, are sponsoring the event, though Heiny is reaching out to more local organizations who want to contribute. Local organizations are looking at activities and events to compliment the exhibit’s time in Austin, including presentations from professors at the Bemidji American Indian Resource Center and possible local presentations.