We Move and We Stay

Minnesota’s oldest communities are still here. And their stories matter.

In We Move and We Stay, every object—old or new, simple or elaborate—evokes an artist, a purpose, and a story.

The objects on display in this exhibition tell of generations of Dakota and Ojibwe people who have made their home in this place now called Minnesota. They tell of traditions old and new. They tell of change and persistence. They tell of moving and staying.

In this exhibition, you’ll find intricately beaded moccasins, colorful cradleboards, wooden canoes, and handmade star quilts among countless other Indigenous-created art pieces. Many of the objects on display are considered more than just objects—they are community members, and they hold multigenerational stories and deep cultural meaning.

As you experience We Move and We Stay, hearing the soft songs of courtship flutes, envisioning what Minnesota’s plains looked like before bison were almost hunted to extinction, and exploring the Indigenous worldview through first-hand storytelling, we hope you grow more connected to the land we all share and its oldest continuous caretakers.

Bison skeleton

Resilience of bison

Dakota: Ehaƞna Ṭaṭaƞka, Ojibwe: Gete-mashkode-bizhiki

As these massive mammals graze, they create new habitat, disperse seeds, and make depressions that hold rainwater and improve biodiversity. Uncover their long history and ties to Indigenous people on the plains alongside a real Bison occidentalis skeleton.

Tradition is innovation

Jingle dresses started to appear in Ojibwe communities in the early 1900s. Today, women wear jingle dresses at powwows all across North America. The dresses and the dances have changed as dancers blend tradition with new materials and influences.

An object from the We Move and We Stay collection.
A first peoples' artifact in the museum collections.

From collections to community

Many of the cultural items in museum collections come from Indigenous communities, some of which can and should be returned. Learn more about repatriation and why it’s important.