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The Name of the Grain

Wild rice is a traditional food that has virtually disappeared from the diets of Ontarian First Nations peoples and the waterways where it once flourished in the "rice bowl" of Turtle Island.

Read a brief history on the traditional harvesting and processing of wild rice, manoomin followed by a discussion on the "domestication" of wild rice. Its production has been co-opted by agribusiness and marketed as an expensive specialty food that is relatively unaffordable for most First Nations' peoples. Arguably, that and ongoing unresolved land rights/treaty issues and the general destruction of Indigenous culture and foodways wrought by colonization contribute to the health crises that exist in First Nations communities where this nutritious food was once a staple. (Truly) wild rice has also been decimated by environment policies, aquatic infrastructure, and leisure activities. The struggle to bring it back has implications in the areas of health, economics, environment, culture, and land rights. There are champions of manoomin who are working to bring it back to their communities. Featured here is James Whetung of the Curve Lake Reserve in Eastern Ontario.

This article was published in volume 12 in the online magazine .


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