People Protecting Manoomin—Manoomin Protecting People: A Symposium Bridging Opposing Worldviews

Wild rice symposium reservation communities of the upper Midwest, in partnership with the University of Minnesota, host this annual symposium as an important, early step toward the emergence of mutual understanding of the significance of wild rice. The event has been taking place since 2013 each fall. 

For the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) wild rice (manoomin) is a sacred gift from the creator. It was foretold in their prophecies that they would reach their homeland where food grows upon the water. In this sense, the Anishinaabe exist today as living prophecy fulfilled, and the survival of their people is intimately tied to that of the manoomin itself as found in its natural habitats. Traditional Anishinaabe lifestyles and cultural identity are intimately bound to the manoomin spiritually, physically and economically. It is a sacred gift essential to their cultural survival and appears increasingly threatened by the work of agricultural scientists. Agricultural scientists have been conducting research for the past 40 years to improve wild rice for cultivation. University researchers have contributed to the development of farming of wild rice and are fulfilling their public mission of advancing knowledge and creating economic opportunity for the public at large. In continued pursuit of agricultural research and development, researchers have begun to map the wild rice genome with the goal of developing genetic markers that will allow selection and development of genotypes preferred for cultivation.

Symposium Outcomes

  • Beginning a process of consensus to bridge opposing worldviews. A consensus statement will indicate progress in finding accommodation among contesting interests on the future of wild rice, and explore possibilities for future wild rice research that includes these interests.
  • Building trust among University scientists, Anishinaabe people and rice growers.