This year marks the 150th anniversary of what is perhaps Minnesota’s darkest hour: the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. There have been a number of events surrounding this anniversary, both in the Twin Cities and in the areas across the state that were directly affected.

The Minnesota Historical Society has just opened a new exhibit at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul: Ded Uŋk’uŋpi—We Are Here.

jim denomie Wander MN: Ded Uŋk’uŋpi    We Are Here

Off the Reservation (Or Minnesota Nice) by Jim Denomie (credit: MNHS)

The exhibit showcases the work of 20 contemporary Native American artists. The name refers to the words spoken by the Native Americans as they were hanged, when they would call out their names and add, “I am here.”

The exhibit is comprised of a variety of media, from painting to beadwork to photography, even this horse mask:

james star comes out Wander MN: Ded Uŋk’uŋpi    We Are Here

1862 by James Star Comes Out (credit: MNHS)

If you’re wondering about Hill’s involvement in the U.S. Dakota War, in 1862 he was 24 years old and still working for other people, long before he became known as the Empire Builder. While it might seem odd to place these paintings in the home of a man who successfully urged President Grover Cleveland to overturn a veto that prevented Hill from running his railroad across Native American land, it might also be seen symbolically as a coming together of those disparate parts of history.

If you haven’t been to the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, consider combining a visit to the exhibition with a tour of the home. The building is impressively ornate, and the art gallery itself (available at a reduced admission price for those who only want to see the art) is a lovely space previously used by Hill to exhibit his own collection of artwork.

avis charley Wander MN: Ded Uŋk’uŋpi    We Are Here

For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman by Avis Charley (credit: MNHS)

The exhibit is open for visitors through Jan. 13, 2013. The art gallery is open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sun., 1-4 p.m. Closed all major holidays.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.


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