Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Did indigenous Mainers once eat wild rice?


The term “cultivated wild rice” is an oxymoron, but while a few wild harvest operations in Minnesota sell their rice online outside the state, if you’ve eaten any of this long, purple-black, chewy grain lately, it probably came from a farm, in either Minnesota or California.

This was not always the case. The plant has a long history in the Great Lakes region. Indigenous people living in Wisconsin and the Upper Michigan peninsula depended upon the wild crop as a staple food, revered it as a gift from the spirits, and used it for medicinal purposes. It was so intrinsic to their culture, they were called Menominee, literally “wild rice people.”


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