For centuries, Native and Indigenous peoples across the Great Lakes Watershed have sustained Manoomin, the Ojibwe word for what is commonly known as wild rice (Zizania palustris and Z. aquatica). Others, such as the Cree, the Odawa, the Potawatomi and the Menominee, for example, refer to the “food that grows on water” as Manôminak, Mnoomin, Mnomen and Manōmaeh respectively, emphasizing the significance of Manoomin to them individually as sovereign nations and collectively as Native and Indigenous peoples. This website is intended to support their longstanding efforts to sustain Manoomin.
Manoomin (wild rice) is the only grain native to North America, and it is viewed as essential to the distinct identity of the Ojibwe people (Nesper 2015). The relationship between the Ojibwe and manoomin is strongly associated with a land ethic that places the human as a part of nature. According to Winona Laduke (2014), the Ojibwe view themselves as equals with the roots, the winged, the hoofed and the finned (Laduke 2014). In a sense, they are connected, intertwined and dependent on each other for survival, and therefore, the Ojibwe have an innate responsibility to care for and protect lands that are essential to their cultural practices. Moreover, Mike Wiggins, Jr., referring to the manoomin states:
“…[It] represents everything our Tribal People hold dear and sacred… Spiritually, the ‘place’ and everything it has, the clean water, the winged, the seasons, the rice and fish, connects us with our ancestors and the Creator.”
Efforts are underway to preserve, protect, and restore manoomin in the Lake Superior basin. For example, Lake Superior Manoomin Restoration workshops were held starting in 2017 to Present. These workshops have helped to identify common themes of the importance of manoomin, mapped where manoomin has been planted or could be restored, identified stressors and priority restoration needs, explored partnerships and scientific gaps that hinder the efforts of restoration, and identified social needs to help improve restoration.
The idea of this project – to develop a Manoomin Outreach and Education Toolkit – was explored at a meeting in September 2017. This meeting reviewed education and outreach needs documented at the 2017 Manoomin workshop and identified Sea Grant as a potential partner in the development of a toolkit. This project, along with coordinated components from Minnesota Sea Grant and Michigan Sea Grant, aims to address education and outreach needs by partnering with Wisconsin’s tribal partners, identifying which types of outreach materials are needed, and prioritizing target audiences and the needs and aspirations of tribal partners. The Project Team recognizes and respects the centrality of manoomin to the Ojibwe people, and therefore, actively engages tribal partners and facilitates processes that ensure tribal partners equitably evaluate, contribute to, and determine project deliverables.
Laduke, Winona, “Presentation at Arizona State University, 2014.” Accessed March 9, 2018. https://vimeo.com/109277206
Nesper, 2015. Nesper, Larry, discussion with Jimmy T. Camacho, April 28, 2015.
Wiggins, Jr., Mike, “Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs Recognized as a Wetland of International Importance.” Press Release. Accessed March 9, 2018. http://www.badriver-nsn.gov/tribal-news/200-kakagon-and-bad-river-sloughs-recognized-as-a-wetland-of-international-importance