On Manoomin and ‘Wild Rice’ – Heavy Desk

There’s an Aadizookaan, one in all our historic sacred tales, that tells about how the Anishinaabeg, the Ojibwe individuals and people tribes associated to them, got here to the Nice Lakes Area.  That Aadizookaan says that our ancestors have been advised to journey east till they got here to the place the place “meals grows on water.”  Once they discovered Manoomin (1), whose stalks of seeds develop up by way of after which ripen over the water, they knew that they had discovered their new dwelling.  Manoomin will not be a “rice,” though English and French audio system have lengthy confused the 2, calling manoomin “wild rice” and “riz sauvage.”  Manoomin cooks in a different way from white and brown rice, and non-native scientists classify manoomin as a “cereal.”  When talking English, Native individuals have come to name the harvesting of manoomin “ricing,” and sure we do generally name it “rice” as properly.  (Enjoyable reality: we name white rice: waabishkii-manooomin, which accurately means “white coloured manoomin.”).

We’re simply on the center, or finish of, relying on the place one lives, Manoominike-giizis, the Ricing Moon, and shortly manoomin shall be on the market in and round Ojibwe communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and different locations within the Nice Lakes Area.  The worth of precise, hand harvested manoomin from Native communities is increased than paddy-rice, the genetically modified “wild rice,” which has been the topic of a lot debate within the Minnesota courts.  The distinction in worth displays not solely that 12 months’s availability of manoomin (in some years it’s extra plentiful than in others), but in addition the again breaking, tedious means of harvesting and processing this meals.  Manoomin, little seed kernels on prime of a grass-like aquatic plant, should be hand harvested by knocking the kernels, plant by plant, right into a slow-moving, hand-polled boat, doing in any other case will destroy the complete mattress, stopping future harvests.  Even with the help of mechanical finishers, the processing of those seed kernels, every in its personal little husk, takes days, and consists of having to: dry, parch, dance, and winnow hundreds of small kernels.  If you’re fortunate sufficient to seek out manoomin on the market, purchase it.  Cooking actual manoomin is much totally different from cooking the GMO different, together with the one present in mass-produced “wild rice” breads, “wild rice” pilaf, numerous soup mixes… and the style of the 2 vegetation is incomparable.

For my subsequent two articles, I interviewed Ojibwe grandmothers whose households have harvested, processed, and cooked Manoomin in Wisconsin for generations.

Mii sa iw (that’s it).

P.S. For extra details about Manoomin, I like to recommend Thomas Vennum’s Wild Rice and the Ojibwa Folks.  For details about the Meals Sovereignty Motion or to buy manoomin go to: https://www.welrp.org/

Annmarie Geniusz / Heavy Desk

Manoomin minawaa Mashkiigiminan: Wild Rice and Cranberries

Barbara Heqet, a self-described “city Indian,” enrolled on the Dangerous River Ojibwe Reservation in Northern Wisconsin, has recognized me for many of my life.  She teased me as soon as, in entrance of my class, that she has a replica of my first publication, a home made coloring e-book I created with my sister once I was six. The faculty college students cherished her story.

It’s because of Heqet that kids in Milwaukee Public Faculties realized Ojibwe language within the early 2000s, when she taught for the system. As an elder with dietary restrictions, Heqet has made manoomin an everyday a part of her food plan. When she agreed to our interview, she proudly advised me that she will make a dish out of manoomin for any meal, even dessert. Heqet describes manoomin as “a sacred meals,” an vital inclusion to feasts and different particular events. Rising up, Heqet’s mom solely served manoomin on holidays.

Though it grows in numerous lakes and rivers round our area, rice from every location has a definite style. Heqet’s recipes are all for Dangerous River manoomin, the one form she cooks. She explains that manoomin from different areas could have barely totally different cooking instances. “I’m very elitist about Dangerous River rice,” she explains. Her mom was too.  Though elevating her kids in Chicago, Heqet’s mom insisted on solely serving Dangerous River manoomin.

Heqet laughs when she talks a couple of time when her mom tried manoomin from one other location, “my mother thought it was simply horrible…. she might inform the distinction.”  Her household’s love of Dangerous River manoomin is comprehensible. In her household tree, Heqet can hint again seven generations who’ve feasted on manoomin from the Dangerous River beds, on the Kakagon Sloughs.

Her ancestor, Aw-ke-wain-ze, a signer of the 1854 Chippewa Treaty, is the primary of the manoomin harvesting generations to which she will hint, however it’s probably that her household harvested manoomin on this space for generations earlier than him. In line with native oral historical past, Aw-ke-wain-ze was instrumental in selecting the boundaries for the Lac Courte d’Orielles Reservation, and he made certain that Manoomin beds have been included in these boundaries. Heqet says: “So I’ve to imagine that that era within the 1840s knew what good ricing areas have been.” A proud mom and grandmother, she is within the sixth era to be blessed with Dangerous River Manoomin.  Her family members at Dangerous River are presently coaching a member of the eighth era in harvesting strategies.

As a very long time activist, Heqet has adopted the Meals Sovereignty Motion from its infancy 20 years in the past, to the current day. Throughout this time, the harvesting of manoomin has turn into, in her phrases, “an act of sovereignty.” Heqet proudly states that a number of years again: “I started buying manoomin harvested by the Ogichidaa opposing the mine at Dangerous River.” (Relatedly, a current lawsuit towards the controversial Line 3 oil pipeline undertaking in Minnesota is predicated on the rights of Manoomin.)

Heqet was form sufficient to share three recipes with our readers. Cooking with mashkiigiminan, cranberries, is one other specialty of Heqet’s. Our cultural teachings pair mashkiigminan and manoomin collectively, we think about each sacred meals, and cranberry sauce and manoomin have been two of the facet dishes Heqet’s mom at all times served at Thanksgiving.  Heqet loves cranberry pie, and as we speak she proudly identifies it as one of many few Ojibwe phrases her mom taught to her: Mashkiigimin-baashiminasigan-batoosijigan-bakwezhigan.

Heqet notes that when cooking, cranberries “pop,” and that “exploding berry” idea is within the Ojibwe identify (it’s the baashiminasigan half).  Whereas speaking about cranberry pies, she mentioned that she extremely recommends those made at Bucks & Berries Household Restaurant in Babcock, Wisconsin (1699 State Rd 80). They’ve a number of varieties.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Desk

Fundamental Manoomin Recipe, supplied by Barbara Heqet

Whereas sharing this recipe, Heqet famous: “Manoomin is a wholesome meals for diabetic and renal diets. Manoomin is a sacred meals given to us by the Creator. Miigwech to our Gete-Anishinaabe for ensuring we have now the blessing of Manoomin.”


1 cup dried manoomin

2 cups water

1 pat of butter


1) Sift by way of the dried manoomin, eradicating any undesirable particles. When parched over a fireplace, manoomin can include little items of charred wooden… generally there are nonetheless items of shaft combined in with the rice…These will must be eliminated. Heqet provides, “I think about Manoomin a really, very sacred meals, so I don’t throw my chaff away, I put it in with my tobacco that I provide.”

2) Put manoomin in a saucepan, add the water to it, and skim off something that floats to the highest. Heqet makes use of water to prepare dinner her manoomin, so if the water is cloudy, she merely dumps it off and replaces it with new water. If utilizing one other liquid (see variation choices under), attempt including water first, examine to see whether it is cloudy or wants skimming, dump the water out, after which add the popular cooking liquid.

3). Add a pat of butter to the saucepan and produce all of it to a boil (see notes under on overlaying pan), then flip right down to simmer for ½ hour.

4)  If manoomin is gentle and liquid is absorbed, then it’s achieved. If not, proceed cooking it (this may take one other 20 minutes, however examine it continuously). Heqet says, “The place it comes from adjustments how lengthy you prepare dinner it,” including that it might take ½ hour to 1 hour to prepare dinner manoomin.

5)  When the grains of manoomin start to open up, flip off the warmth.  The manoomin is able to eat when the grains totally open and have a fluffy texture.


1) Heqet says that, if time or availability of liquids aren’t any object, there isn’t any cause to cowl the saucepan when cooking manoomin, including, “and naturally the odor is great.” She recommends pouring off any extra liquid and utilizing it in a soup.

2) Heqet’s mother at all times added 1 strip of uncooked bacon to the dried manoomin and liquid earlier than she began cooking it. If she cooked greater than 1 cup of manoomin, she added 1 strip of uncooked bacon per cup of manoomin. Heqet substitutes butter for the bacon.

3) Any cooking liquid may be added rather than the water. Heqet explains,  “For each cup of untamed rice you want at the very least two components liquid… in order that liquid might be juice, it might be water with a little bit little bit of maple syrup, or simply plain water… I’ve seen individuals prepare dinner it with apple juice, or partially diluted apple juice.”

4)The recipe may be elevated, however keep in mind: 1 cup of dried manoomin, relying on the place it’s harvested, yields 2-3 cups cooked.

Dessert Manoomin For a Potluck


1 cup dried manoomin

2-3 cups frozen cranberries (or 1½ cups frozen cranberries and 1 ½ cups strawberries)

1) Prepare dinner manomin as directed within the “Fundamental Manoomin Recipe,” however prepare dinner the berries with the combination.

2) Heqet’s mom added no sweetener to her sauce, however Heqet makes use of strawberries as a sweetener.

3) The manoomin turns into 2-3 cups when cooked, so the ensuing combination is nearly equal components berries and manoomin.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe:

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup frozen cranberries

½ cup water  (simply sufficient so it gained’t keep on with the underside of the pan).


Carry combination to boil in an uncovered sauce pan. As soon as combination is at boiling level, the cranberries will begin dissolving in 10-15. If you wish to pace issues up, use a potato masher and so they turn into gentle even faster. When the berries are dissolved, the sauce is finished. Heqet provides: “When you’re simply boiling cranberries with a little bit little bit of sugar, the floor begins forming little pink bubbles…. begin stirring once you see the pink bubbles forming, and when the pink bubbles begin disappearing, then the sauce is finished”. The sauce will thicken with out the addition of any thickening agent.


1) Heqet’s mom made cranberry sauce by combining cranberries with sweetener. Heqet provides that “it supplied a pleasant distinction to the blandness of a lot of the different belongings you eat at Thanksgiving.” If utilizing sweetener, Heqet recommends 1 / 4 cup of sugar, or a small quantity of maple syrup, to style.

2). Heqet’s sauce has no sweetener in any respect. She explains, “When you equalize the quantity of cranberries with strawberries, you’ll be able to often get away with no sweetener in any respect.”

3). One can substitute most any form of berries for the strawberries. Heqet suggests utilizing frozen blueberries or raspberries. One might use contemporary berries, however Heqet explains that being “an city particular person,” she doesn’t have common entry to contemporary berries.

4) Heqet often makes this sauce with further water as a result of she and her husband love cranberry juice and cran-strawberry juice that may be strained out of it. To make this juice, mix the berries with 3 cups of water and, when the sauce is cooked, pressure out the surplus liquid to drink as a juice.


1 I capitalize plant names once they refer particularly to the spirit of the plant.

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