Harvesting wild rice empowers Ojibwe students
Despite little knowledge and few skills, the Ojibwe youth of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, Wis. are able to harvest and process Manoomin, a type of wild rice, for the first time. Now knowing the process of harvesting Manoomin, the youth are practicing a tradition that has been part of their heritage for thousands of years.
Wild rice is an aquatic grass which is grown in water four to five feet deep. This rice is harvested by canoeing near the grass and slightly tapping the end of the grass and collecting the rice that falls. The harvesting season of wild rice occur between August and September. Jason Bisonette, language teacher and coordinator of the LCO Ojibwe School, explained the importance of getting all of his students out to harvest during the harvesting period. “To me, it is important to have all of the students experience harvesting wild rice and I do what I can to get all the students out and learn how to do this tradition.”