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Manoomin (wild rice)
HOPKINS, MICHIGAN - The Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians and the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute are hosting "Neshnabe Menomenkewen" - A Traditional Wild Rice Harvesting and Processing Workshop on Saturday, October 15 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm edt.
The workshop will be held at Jijak Tribal Center, located at 2558 - 20th Street, Hopkins, Michigan.
Manoomin (wild rice) has historically been important as both a unique part of Southwest Michigan's wetland ecology and for its central place at the heart of traditional Ojibway, Ottawa and Potawatomi culture. Today, wild rice continues to fill an important role in our region's biodiversity. Wild ricing traditions are being revitalized in many Great Lakes Indian communities and wild rice is being recognized and valued as a locally sustainable and incredibly delicious food.
The workshop will be taught by Roger LaBine, an expert ricer and tribal elder from the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and Barb Barton, Natural Resource Director for the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute.
LaBine has been an strong advocate for Manoomin for many years, promoting its restoration and protection both within his own community and on a broader statewide level. Through coordinating rice camps and educational workshops Roger has also worked toward his vision of revitalizing the traditional practice of ricing in Michigan Indian communities.
“Wild rice is part of the identity of our people - very much like our language,”
said LaBine of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in the Upper Peninsula.
“It's how we came to be located on this spot of Mother Earth.”
Rice Restoration Efforts
LaBine, 54, of the Trout Creek area, aims to raise awareness of the grain's cultural, historical and spiritual importance. Natives were told by one of seven prophets they would head west from the East Coast until they found the "food that grows on the water," according to legend.
"That's why the manoomin is treated with such respect," he said.
“It's a gift right from the creator to (the Anishinaabe) people.”
Barton is a biologist who specializes in the study and protection of Michigan's wild rice beds. She is also an experienced ricer who studied the tradition with Roger LaBine and Charlie Fox, an elder from the Mole Lake Ojibwa. As the Natural Resource Director of the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute she coordinates a number of projects focused on understanding and protecting wild rice as important component of Michigan's diverse wetland habitats.
LaBine worked with his now late uncle, Archie McGeshnick, on wild rice restoration efforts in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin through the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission.
They sowed beds in the Lac Vieux Desert - their own neck of the woods - in the 1990s, replacing crops that were destroyed when a power company built a dam near the lake in the 1930s, LaBine said. Thanks to their efforts, there are 93 acres rich with rice where there had been none.
posted October 1, 2011 9:50 am edt
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