Discover Minnesota's Ethnic Heritage
Minnesota museums and heritage sites present the experiences of the Ojibwe and Dakota Indians and immigrants who settled in Minnesota—years ago or just recently. The stories they tell reflect the rich tapestry that is Minnesota.
American Indian Heritage Sites
The oldest pictures of our past are etched in ancient rocks at Jeffers Petroglyphs, in southwest Minnesota. This site, which is sacred to American Indians, features over 2,000 carved images of human figures, tools, and animals such as bison, turtles, elk, and thunderbirds. Another sacred site is Pipestone National Monument, where pipestone has been quarried here for centuries to carve prayer pipes.
Chapters of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 unfolded at various sites along the Minnesota River Valley. For more information on Minnesota Historical Society sites, events, and a mobile tour related to the U.S.-Dakota War, visit usdakotawar.org.
Several museums celebrate Scandinavian roots and culture in Minnesota. Visit the American Swedish Institute (ASI), located just south of downtown Minneapolis, for exhibits of Swedish, Swedish-American, and Nordic culture. The ASI's historic Turnblad Mansion features sculpted ceilings, intricately carved wood, beautiful rugs of Swedish wool, and exquisite porcelain kakelugnar. The Gammelgården Museum in Scandia is an eleven-acre site with historic buildings built by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s. See Minnesota's oldest Lutheran church, a log home, barn, parsonage, and cottage. The Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead brings Scandinavian heritage to life with its Viking ship, stave church, special exhibits, and large seasonal festivals.
The Minnesota Discovery Center and other Iron Range sites tell the story of Italians, Finns, and other 20th century immigrant mineworkers in northeastern Minnesota. At the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, the exhibit Open House: If These Walls Could Talk tells a series of stories about immigrants who lived in one house in St. Paul over several decades. Learn about the German immigrant family who first lived there, and the Italians, African-Americans, and Hmong who succeeded them.
The Museum of Russian Art, located in a beautiful, remodeled church in south Minneapolis, hosts exhibits of all types of Russian art and culture.
The new Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center is in a historic building just south of downtown Minneapolis.