Project Overview

The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) are seeking up to four writers for a series of third-grade level books highlighting the history and experiences of individual Dakota and Ojibwe people: leaders, healers, culture-keepers, and other notable figures. Writers must currently reside in Minnesota and be from Dakota or Ojibwe communities. Each writer selected will write an original biography of a Dakota or Ojibwe person from either the past or present. The books in the series will be published in the fall of 2020.

The writers selected for this project – announced in fall 2019 – will receive a payment of $2,000 upon submission of the final manuscript to the printer, and ten complimentary copies of the book upon its release.

The series will be co-edited by award-winning Minnesota authors Heid Erdrich and Gwen Westerman.

“We envision a series of children’s books by, for, and about Dakota and Ojibwe people that portray our histories, knowledge-ways, culture-keepers, and beloved figures. These biographies will help Dakota, Ojibwe, and other Native American children imagine their own potential and help them see their cultures represented alongside biographies of [American] leaders in our society.” – Statement from the editors

The books for this project will support “Why Treaties Matter,” a community engagement program of MHC and MIAC. “Why Treaties Matter” communicates, in a meaningful and truthful way, the history of sovereignty and treaties between nations in Minnesota territory (and later the state of Minnesota) to educators, students, and the general public.

About MHC and MIAC

MHC is a statewide nonprofit and full-service event center located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We collaborate with organizations and people through education, partnerships, and public programs to inspire community conversations, forge deep connections, and illuminate authentic, diverse voices across the state — especially those left out, marginalized, or otherwise absent from our education and public awareness.

MIAC is an agency of the state of Minnesota whose mission is to protect the sovereignty of the eleven Minnesota tribes and ensure the wellbeing of all American Indian citizens throughout the state of Minnesota.

Selection Process and Timeline

Deadline: Oct. 14, 2019
All applicants notified: No later than Nov. 15, 2019

Selections will be made by the editors based on the eligibility and assessment criteria below.

How To Submit

  • Submissions will be accepted by online form or email ( until Oct. 14, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. CDT. Any submission made after the deadline will not be considered.
    Note: Please contact Alicia Waters at if you need an alternative method of submission.
  • All submissions must include the following information to be considered:
    • The names of up to three individuals that you (the applicant) are interested in writing about.
    • Your (the applicant’s) personal biography of 50-150 words that includes:
      • How you identify – as Dakota and/or Ojibwe. (Please state the name of the Dakota or Ojibwe community where you are enrolled or from which you are descended or with whom you are affiliated in your personal biography. These communities need not be within Minnesota.)
      • Birthdate and/or age. (Eligible applicants must be 18+.)
    • A prose writing sample of 2,000-4,000 words, attached as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file. (see below for writing sample guidelines). All writing samples:
      • Must be in English, but could include portions in other languages.
      • Must be no longer than 4,000 words.
      • Need not be about this biography project.

Note: Submissions will not be returned.


Writers must:

  • Currently reside in Minnesota.
  • Be from Dakota or Ojibwe communities.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Writers may be published or unpublished Dakota or Ojibwe writers.


Submissions will be judged on:

  • Quality of writing sample.
  • Likelihood the proposed work will inspire Native American children to imagine their own potential.
  • Likelihood the proposed work will help Native American children see their cultures represented alongside biographies of [American] leaders in our society.
  • Balance of the figures proposed for the series.

We acknowledge that many people’s identities have experienced disruption. If you have questions about the eligibility requirements, please contact Jennifer Tonko at for further clarification. You may also write additional information or context in your personal biography.

This program is funded from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.