Nibi and Manoomin: Bridging Worldviews Symposium

August 22-24, 2011 - Mahnomen, MN


Nibi and Manoomin: Bridging Worldviews Symposium

(Hosted by the White Earth Tribal Council and the University of Minnesota*)

August 22-24, 2011

Shooting Star Casino, Mahnomen, MN

This symposium builds on work begun two years ago between tribal communities and the University of Minnesota. The first symposium (2009) brought researchers from the University together with tribal elders from across northern Minnesota. It offered an opportunity to share knowledge about manoomin and build a better understanding between native knowledge holders and University researchers on wild rice in a good way.

That initial gathering was very powerful and long overdue. One outcome of the symposium was a request by tribal members in attendance for more opportunities to share stories, research, and learning and build trust so that wild rice is appreciated as a sacred gift from the creator by us all--this second symposium honors that request. Another outcome of the initial meeting was to draft a wild rice white paper. This paper would identify issues where University and tribal interests could begin to engage in meaningful dialogue on wild rice research conducted at the University and offer recommendations for action. The document was completed and will be presented to the University.

This current symposium, “Nibi and Manoomin: Bridging Worldviews,” provides another occasion to exchange teachings between Western and Anishinaabe cultural views. In addition to manoomin, we will include sessions on water (nibi) at this symposium. Water and manoomin belong together.

Preliminary AgendaRicing Canoes

August 22 - Opening Ceremony,

Welcome-Anishinaabe tribal leadership and University officials, White Paper Recommendations, Traditional Anishinaabe Ricing Camp and Story Telling

August 23 - Anishinaabe Lifeways Panel, Youth Presentation, Treaty Context Health and Risks to Manoomin, Talking Circles, Ojibway Visual Dictionary

August 24 – Water Panel, Small Working Groups, Talking circle

Click the following link to register for the symposium:

Click the following link to download a brochure.

2011 Brochure

* The Office for Equity and Diversity and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.


Why a symposium?

Reservation communities of the upper Midwest in partnership with the University of Minnesota host this symposium as an important step toward building an ongoing understanding of the significance of wild rice. The symposium offers an opportunity to share the role that wild rice (manoomin, Zizania palustris) plays within the communities of the Anishinabe people of the upper Midwest and Cree of Canada and hear from speakers regarding the health of wild rice and future threats with a focus on the potential risks genetic engineering poses.

The Context: Manoomin, Tradition and Science

For the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) wild rice (manoomin) is a sacred gift from the creator. It was foretold in prophecy that the Anishinaabe would reach their homeland when they came to the place where food grows upon the water. In this sense, the Anishinaabe exist today as living prophecy fulfilled, and their survival 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.

Respectful dialogue between the tribes and University researchers is needed in order to build understanding between communities that honors the sacred relationship of manoomin to the Anishinaabe people and the water we all depend on.


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