Forest History Center host recognizing rights to wild rice lecture

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Wild rice plays a huge part of not only in Minnesota culture, but also the history for indigenous peoples. The forest history center in Grand Rapids, held a lecture today recognizing the rights of wild rice. According to oral traditions of the Anishinaabe people, they migrated west of the great lakes region in search of where food grew on water.

Frank Bibeau, the Executive Director for the 1885 Treaty Authority, talked the importance of Native American treaties. “One of our treaties in 1837 specifically says that we reserve the right to hunt fish and gather wild rice on the lands, rivers and waters that are being exceeded. And so wild rice is also a treaty, right? Treaties are the supreme law of the land.” Bibeau said.

However, the rice’s significance goes beyond being a valuable commodity. There is even a deep spiritual connection within the indigenous community. “The rights of wild rice really is how we have our relationship with all of nature and why we protect wild rice and why we protect water using our treaty rights, having our treaty rights recognized and upheld.”

These treaties between the Minnesota Chippewa tribe and the US government are still setting legal precedence to this day. From protecting the environment to preserving the way of live for tribal communities. “You know, in many ways the relationship with wild rice is the same relationship that people probably have with who their spiritual leader is, whether it’s Christ or Allah or Bhutto or whoever. It would be probably one of our primary symbols and relationships with the creator. Wild rice is in the center of everything.” Bibeau said.

Bibeau’s Recognizing the Right to Wild Rice lecture, was one of many exciting lectures happening at the forest history center. John Beltman, the program supervisor talked more about other fun events in the months to come. “This is a different approach altogether, in which we’re only open on Saturday afternoons for 2 hours and it attracts more of a local crowd. So we’re going to continue these lectures twice a month. So we have someone talking about polar bears. We do have our winter adventure family day next month, which will be outdoors in the logging camp, games in the snow, sleigh rides.” Beltman said.

For another story about indigenous people in Minnesota you can read more here

For more information about wild rice you can look here