Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Judy & Tobias Pamp
HOPKINS, MICHIGAN - "One of my sons asked me yesterday 'isn't that women's work?' about harvesting wild rice. I said, 'Okay, you are coming with me tomorrow'" recalled Judy Pamp, Saginaw Chippewa, with hearty laughter as she sat making a paddle made of cedar wood, used to mix wild rice at a wild rice workshop late Saturday afternoon.
Pamp ended up bringing all three of her sons - Tobias, 9; Waasamoo, 11 and Gegek, 12, with her to the "Neshnabe Menomenkewen" - A Traditional Wild Rice Harvesting and Processing Workshop, hosted by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, commonly known as the Gun Lake Tribe, and the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute.
"Back then, everyone did the work for the betterment of the community. It takes a village. This workshop really showed the importance of working together as the total community," stressed Pamp.
Pamp, who is the assistant director of the Ziibiwing Center of Anisbinabe Culture and Lifeways, based in Mt. Pleasant, said three other employees of the Center attended the workshop to learn more about the culture associated with American Indian usage of wild rice. So she decided to attend, as well.
They were among 100 people who attended the cultural training workshop from 12 American Indian tribes and First Nations from Canada. People traveled to West Michigan from as far away as Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
"We were happy with the number of people who came and are interested in this type of training," commented Ed Pigeon, vice chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.
"Our goal is to have wild rice planted in the four lakes that are on tribal property. Our next year's goal is to harvest our own rice."
This year the wild rice was brought by the Roger LaBine, an elder of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, based in Watersmeet, Michigan.
Roger LaBine - Chippewa
“This training is about the history, spiritual and cultural significance of the use of wild rice by our people,”
said LaBine. "There was high interest in today's training. It was nice seeing people come from various tribes."
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.
Wild rice is a grass species whose grain provides the base of the food chain for wetland, lake and riparian habitats where it occurs, especially during late summer and early autumn. It is a key element of the Great Lake's coastal and interior wetlands.
"We took the participants through all steps of harvesting and processing the rice. Even though, there is no rice to harvest in the lake, we were going to do a demonstration of how it is done, but the winds prevented us from even going down to the lake today," said LaBine.
"Wild rice used to grow in Gun Lake, but is no longer there," stated Lorraine "Punkin" Shananaquet, tribal council member of the Gun Lake Tribe.
"Wild rice needs stable water with no motor boats to grow," added Pigeon.
The workshop was held at Jijak Tribal Center, a campground owned by the Gun Lake Tribe.
posted October 17, 2011 8:30 am edt
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