<Ojibwe Lifeway: Wild Rice Harvesting (“dagwaagin”-fall)

Connect With Culture

Explore how manoomin is harvested today

Explore how manoomin is harvested today

Use the Menu of Resources to learn more about the importance of manoomin to the Ojibwe people both historically and today. Explore and evaluate Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of how climate change may be affecting the sustainability of manoomin or through an experiential learning opportunity.

Use the Connect With Culture Activity Guide to guide your exploration.

Wenabojoo Discovers Wild Rice
(An Ojibwe Legend)

Wenabojoo begins a long journey without food at the instruction of his grandmother Noko’mis, who says he needs to become a man and become accustomed to hardships.

Many days he wandered, and finally came to a beautiful lake full of wild rice, the first ever seen. But he did not know that the grain was good to eat; he liked it for its beauty.

He went into the forest and got the bark from a large pine tree. From this bark he made a canoe with which to gather the grain. After the canoe was made, he went to Noko’mis and they both came and gathered the rice, and sowed it in another lake.

Later, Wenabojoo embarked again on his fasting journey and he came upon some bushes that spoke and told him they are good to eat. So, he dug up their roots and ate them, but became so sick he had to lay there for three days before returning on his journey. More plants spoke to him, but he would not listen.

At last he was passing along the river, and saw little bunches of straw growing up in the water. They spoke to him and said: “Wenabojoo, sometimes they eat us.”

So he picked some of it and ate it, and said: “Oh, but you are good! What do they call you?” “They call us mano’min,” the grass answered.

Wenabojoo waded out into the water up to his breast and beat off the grain, and ate and ate, but this time he was not sick. Full of good food, he remembered sowing this plant with his Noko’mis, so he returned home.

Taken from Wild Rice and the Ojibwe People, Thomas Vennum, Jr. The story related is from “The Wild Rice Gathers in the Upper Great Lakes: A Study of Primitive Economics,” in the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1897-1898.

Investigate Evidence of Climate Change on Manoomin

Design Your Own Place-based Experience

Interview a tribal elder about their experiences with manoomin. Ask them for their perspective of how a changing climate might affect manoomin.

Interview a Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife (GLIFWC) wild rice natural resource manager or researcher on how climate change might impact manoomin and what evidence there is of this change.

Participate in a Rice Camp. Several tribal colleges and Lake Superior Chippewa Bands offer wild rice camp experiences for youth. Contact GLIFWC for more information.