Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Nibi and Manoomin Symposium: Building Lasting Relationships, Sept. 25-27, 2013

Manoomin (wild rice) is a sacred gift from the Creator. The survival of the Anishinaabe is intimately tied to the survival of manoomin itself. Anishinaabe prophecies foretold of a migration journey to a homeland where food grows on the water. The Great Lakes area is that Homeland, and wild rice is that food. Anishinaabe Peoples have fulfilled this prophecy. The Anishinaabe and manoomin require clean water to live. This is a sacred relationship. A traditional Anishinaabe lifestyle and intact cultural identity are intimately bound spiritually, physically, intellectually, and economically to Nibi and Manoomin.

Manoomin is threatened. Over the last 40 years threats from sulfide mining, climate change chaos, agricultural chemicals, invasive species, and other risks have caused destruction to wild rice beds. There is also concern over potential risks of new technologies. In this context, tribal Nations and Traditional peoples are often in conflict with western science.

As Anishinaabe nations and peoples work to protect, preserve, and properly care for manoomin (wild rice), the University of Minnesota has had a deeply troubled history in sharing these goals. In order to develop a better understanding between University of Minnesota researchers and tribal communities, a series of symposia were launched in 2009. The inaugural symposium "People Protecting Manoomin: Manoomin Protecting People" began a process of bridging opposing worldviews. Some 150 people convened at White Earth Nation to participate in sharing knowledge and perspectives on manoomin, and to start the difficult work of building trust among University scientists, paddy rice farmers, Anishinaabe Nations, wild lake/river rice harvesters and other concerned members of the public. In 2011, a second symposium, "Nibi and Manoomin: Bridging Worldviews,” was held at White Earth. The dialogue between Western and Anishinaabe cultural worldviews continued and new sessions on Nibi (water) were included as manoomin lives in water.

September 25-27, 2013 we seek to build on the first two symposia working toward generating greater understanding at a third symposium, “Nibi and Manoomin: Building Lasting Relationships.” The symposium will be held at the Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia on beautiful Lake Mille Lacs. The event is co-sponsored by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity. This symposium offers an opportunity to join working groups that will help to craft a shared agenda outlining critical approaches to respect, preserve and properly care for water and manoomin.

The Water Walkers will join us for song and ceremony. In addition to an elder’s panel, keynote presentations by Rodolpho Stavenhagen, former Human Rights/United Nations Special Rapporteur and Kyle Whyte (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), this symposium enables attendees to participate in Working Groups. Identified areas of interest include:

Memorandum of Understanding (Genetic modification of wild rice and the University of Minnesota)

Women and Water: Anishinaabe Worldviews

Manoomin: Risks, Research, and Restoration

Nibi Center: Indigenous Knowledge and Research Partnerships

Register on line at:


Nibi and Manoomin Symposium Working Group

Contacts for more information:

Renee Gurneau 218-368-3773 Karl Lorenz --

Lea Foushee 651-770-3861 Jill Doerfler --


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