“We're not trying to speak for Dakota people. There's not one Dakota voice, and there's not one voice for white (people) either,” Leonard said. “We're not trying to speak for any one group. We're trying to tell a story.
“We have to make a lot of choices about what we think is important,” he said.
The class began Sept. 3, and the project will be wrapped up by November so the designs can be sent to graphic designers with time left to proof and make changes. The bulk of the course will focus on creating the exhibit, but it also will give students a means to explore public-history careers.
“Several (students) have a real interest in pursuing a career in public history,” Leonard said.
Leonard has taught at Gustavus during a few January terms and has worked with students to create historical traveling exhibits. Among them was a class on the Dakota War he co-taught with English professor Elizabeth Baer in 2012, and the class' final project was a traveling Dakota War exhibit that has been presented in about 25 locations. In December it will be shipped for presentation at the Smithsonian in New York and then in Washington, D.C.
“It worked out really well and beyond our expectations,” Leonard said. “These traveling exhibits are something we're going to focus on in the future.”