Harvesting & Processing
Traditional methods used by the Ojibwe people to harvest manoomin are still used today.
The description of the traditional Ojibwe harvest of wild rice that follows is based on an account written by Lac du Flambeau high school students, Jeff Allen, Raelle Allen, Gabrielle Poupart, and Bill Eckerstorfer, regarding the gathering of manoomin.
Manoominike ~ Wild Ricing
Manoomin, called "wild rice" outside the Ojibwe culture, has played a central role in tribal life. It has spiritual attributes, and its discovery is recorded in legends. It is used in ceremonies and as a major food source. Traditionally, its harvest promoted social interaction in late summer each year. In August our people moved to their manoomin camps for harvest. Once manoomin ripened most energy was focused on harvesting. Manoomin was our main food source.
Manoominikewin (Making Rice)
Harvesting wild rice is also called knocking the rice. Canoes are the best watercraft to use because their shape and smoothness causes the least harm to the rice plant. The only tools needed for harvesting manoomin are those required to move the canoe through the plants and ricing sticks to thresh the kernels into the canoe.
The technique used for knocking was simple: the sticks were held in each hand, and the harvester reached to the side and pulled in as many stalks as he or she could over the edge of the canoe and knocked the kernels into the bottom of the canoe. Special care was taken to clean the canoe and wear clean clothing prior to and while harvesting manoomin. The same method and implements are used today.
Click HERE to find out how the rice is dried, parched, hallowed and winnowed.
By Thomas Vennum
Thomas Vennum, Jr., uses travelers' narratives, historical and ethnological accounts, scientific data, historical and contemporary photographs and sketches, his own field work, and the words of Indian people to examine the importance of this wild food to the Ojibway people.
By Gordon Reqquinti
Glen Jackson, Jr., is an 11-year-old Ojibway Indian from the Leech Lake reservation in Minnesota. Glen is taking part in the ritual for the first time and is worried that he won't be strong enough to push the canoe through the rice beds without tipping over.
By Therese DeAngelis
Discusses the Ojibwa Indians, focusing on their tradition of gathering wild rice. Includes a rice recipe and instructions for making a dream catcher.
Have you ever eaten Wild Rice?