The Minnesota Historical Society is hosting the We Are Water MN exhibit at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia from September 18 to November 2, 2019.
The exhibit and events are designed to explore the ways water is integral to the history, culture, and identity of both Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe members and non-native people who live near Mille Lacs Lake, and to invite people to enjoy and protect Mille Lacs Lake and its surrounding waters.
We Are Water MN is a popular statewide traveling exhibit and community engagement project that invites visitors to reflect on the experiences of local people and come to a deeper understanding of what taking care of water means to people. Science and history are also included via this 1,000-square foot, hands-on exhibit created by the Minnesota Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society, and Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.
This is the second statewide tour of the We Are Water MN exhibit. This will be the eighth and final site in the tour that visited Minnesota communities between October 2018 and November 2019: St. Paul, Bemidji, Crookston, Duluth, Austin, Northfield, Grand Rapids, and Onamia.
Bradley Harrington understands water through Annishinaabe language and teachings
Bradley Harrington is the current Commissioner of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Department of Natural Resources and an Ojibwe language, culture, and ceremonial student. He is was interviewed as a part of this project and is featured in the exhibit.
Bradley explains that he grew to understand his role in the environment from the teachings he received on his reservation. He learned from a man named Doug Sahm that every body of water has a manidoo, a spirit, and that his ancestors used to put an offering into the lake every spring for the manidoo. In return, the manidoo protected the Annishinaabe people that used the lake.
“Anishinaabe's relationship with the water is more along the lines of a team," he says. "The Anishinaabe get a lot of assistance from water, so much assistance that life depends on it. We could not have any sustainable life without that gift. And if were to only treat the water as a physical combination of molecules that came together in a way that only science can explain, then it loses its life. It’s just a physical object.”
You can listen to this and more local stories in the exhibit, or at mnhum.org/water. Click on “hear stories.”
Visiting the exhibit
We Are Water MN is open September 18 – November 2, at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia (43411 Oodena Dr., Onamia, MN 56359). Hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 11:00am – 4:00pm.
As a part of the exhibit, the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and their partners will offer an opening celebration event, "Wild for Wild Rice," on Saturday Sept. 21 from 11:00am to 4:00pm at the museum.
Other events include:
- Boat launches at Eddy’s, September 20 and 28, 6-10 p.m.
- Water-themed paint nights, September 20 at Eddy's from 6-8 p.m., October 2 at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum from 6-8 p.m., October 19 at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., October 24 at the Mille Lacs Area Library from 6-8 p.m.
Visit the museum’s website for a full schedule and details.
Stay the day and try out these other local activities.
- Take a hike at Mille Lacs Kathio and Father Hennepin State Parks
- Go on a fishing trip on Mille Lacs Lake
- Learn more about the history and culture of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
- Canoe down the scenic Rum River