A University of Minnesota museum announced last week that it will no longer charge Native American visitors an admission fee since the museum “sits on the traditional and treaty land of the Dakota people.”
The Bell Museum posted a statement on its website last week acknowledging that the “land we are standing on is Dakota land.”
“Our goal is to advance understandings of the natural world that will create a sustainable future,” the statement reads. “These understandings include the traditional knowledge systems of indigenous peoples, the first inhabitants and caretakers of the land. These systems capture histories, relationships, and ecological expertise. To advance our mission, we rely on and share some aspects of indigenous knowledge systems and understandings of the land. We do this in consultation with indigenous peoples.”
The statement concludes by declaring that the museum “sits on the traditional and treaty land of the Dakota people who, along with the Ojibwe people, are the indigenous peoples of the land now called Minnesota.”
“In recognition of this fact, and to honor the Dakota people for their care of and knowledge of this land, we waive general museum admission for Dakota and all indigenous peoples,” it continues.
According to the Minnesota Reformer, the change was approved by the museum’s board of trustees in October and took effect March 3.
“The Dakota people, for thousands of years, have been taking care of the land on which the museum sits,” Denise Young, executive director of the Bell Museum, told the outlet. “This was one way, and I should say a small way, that we could rightfully acknowledge their contributions and understanding of the land.”
The Minnesota Historical Society has adopted a similar policy of waving admission fees for Native American visitors of Fort Snelling. The historical society is in the process of considering a new name for Fort Snelling – one that “adequately reflects the expanded stories” of the land, The Minnesota Sun reported.
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