Retracing the canoe trail of Nanabozho: Wild rice reemergence in Michigan after a decade of ecocultural restoration

Ethnobotany 1
Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 09:00
, Scott - Ferris State University
, Roger - Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Wild rice, Zizania palustris and Z. aquatica, is an emergent, annual grain once widely distributed across the entire Great Lakes, but the genocide and removal of Native Americans also led to destruction of wild rice habitats.  As tribal communities became cut off from the rivers and lakes providing this food, their tool and canoe making knowledge and processing techniques virtually vanished from Michigan. The vision of Roger LaBine's uncle Naganash, who mentored Roger before he passed in 1999, led to his restoration efforts in 2002 on Lake Lac Vieux Desert on the Michigan-Wisconsin border. Over the past decade, the authors helped wild rice reemerge. They hosted a conference in 2006, wild rice camps 2007-2012, and have trained hundreds of citizens from Michigan and beyond in the hand-harvesting techniques of wild rice from canoes, as well as processing techniques to turn this grain into an Anishinaabek staple foods again.