What is narrative change?

Narrative change is the practice of intentionally changing for the better the general public’s views of a group of people through education, awareness raising, and constructively overcoming misunderstandings and misperceptions.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and other tribes have made important progress in recent decades in rebuilding their communities and cultures, and, in the process, reshaping many non-Natives’ perceptions of Native Americans. However, most Minnesotans still have little or no in-depth understanding of the state’s tribes or Native history and culture.

It is beneficial for Minnesotans of all backgrounds to have a better appreciation of Native Americans’ experiences and current circumstances through collaborative efforts to enrich and update the narrative about Native Minnesotans. To support this new narrative change work, the SMSC launched Understand Native Minnesota in October 2019.

Understand Native Minnesota is a multifaceted strategic initiative and philanthropic campaign focused on Native American narrative change in Minnesota’s schools. This campaign aims to improve public attitudes toward Native Americans by incorporating greater awareness and sensitive treatment of Native Americans, along with accurate information about their history, culture, and modern tribal governments into Minnesota’s K-12 education system.


The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) has committed $5 million to support Native American narrative change in Minnesota’s schools through its Understand Native Minnesota campaign. The SMSC is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe located in Scott County, Minnesota. The SMSC is the largest philanthropic benefactor in Indian Country nationally and one of the largest charitable givers in Minnesota. The SMSC has donated more than $350 million to organizations and causes, provided $500 million in economic development loans to other tribes, and contributed millions more to support regional governments and infrastructure.