MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 4 WINTER 2018-2019 • MANOOMIN • Indian Community School (ICS) staff and volunteers both learn and demonstrate the process of manoominikewin for intertribal youth at the school. Community member Mark Denning and ICS staff Mark Powless teach youth how to scorch the manoomin in large kettles. (B. Jennings photo) Binding—an older method of manoomin harvesting Imagine an acre of manoomin not as a sea of swaying stalks, but as orderly rows of shocked heads, tied into neat bundles a yard in diameter at their base, with an open canoe channel between them. Imagine the labor of producing such a scene, or harvesting the rice not with the cedar ricing sticks, but simply by return- ing at a later date, paddling down the channel, leaning the shocks over the canoe and untying the heads. Thisother,older,andapparentlylesscommonmethodofharvestingmanoomin was once practiced by the Ojibwe, but the practice faded out perhaps a century or more ago. Much of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) associated bind- ing seems to be fading away as well. “Binding” or “tying” rice reflected a high application of TEK: binding too early would interfere with pollination; binding too tightly would presumably crush the stems and prevent the seeds from filling out. But when done properly, binding allowed the seeds to reach full maturity (and thus likely finished with a higher yield) while protecting the plants from losses due to wind, rain, hail and birds. Binding also differed from “knocking” rice in at least two other important ways: 1) it likely made it possible to harvest a much higher portion of the seed produced than the 10-15% that is harvested by even intensive application of the ricing sticks, and 2) binding rice implied ownership: if I bind this manoomin, I have an expectation that it is mine to harvest once the rice has matured. Both of these matters likely had important implications. The high yield that was possible through binding likely offered both positives and negatives. It allowed a high harvest from a relatively small area, and thus the By Peter David, GLIFWC Wildlife Biologist practice seemed to be more commonly done by elders, or individuals without a ricing partner. The implied ownership also meant that binding was really effective only when that ownership was respected by other harvesters. There is little reason to go through the labor of binding if “my” rice is taken by another. It also means that bindingwaslikelypracticedclosetotribalcommunities,wherecontrolwasgreatest. It seems likely that the ownership issue is one of the reasons that the practice was lost. As more non-tribal people became ricers, it was likely impossible to maintain the level of regulatory control of the rice beds that existed when ricing wasstrictlyatribalactivity.However,whilethatconsiderationwouldseemtoapply to off-reservation beds, it is less clear why the tribal members stopped binding within reservation boundaries. Although binding is not currently legal under state or tribal off-reservation codes, there is interest in re-learning the TEK associated with this practice, and determining if there is a place for it today. Perhaps someday, you will not have to imagine the scene of bound rice, but will see it yourself. If you have knowledge, stories or experiences with binding you may be will- ing to share with GLIFWC staff, please contact Peter David at 715-682-6619, ext. 2123, or Miigwech! Woman in boat tying wild rice stalks with basswood fiber. (Frances Theresa Densmore photo ©Minnesota Historical Society) Wild rice tied for harvest on Minnesota’s Lake Onamia. Done properly, binding allowed the seeds to reach full maturity while protecting the plants from losses due to wind, rain, hail and birds. Binding is not currently legal under state or tribal off-reservation codes (©Minnesota Historical Society, circa 1909) Milwaukee, Wis.—Hunting, fishing, and harvesting aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind when driving through Milwaukee, but one resilient communityislookingtomakethesetraditionscommonlyunderstoodandengrained in their youth. Staff at Indian Community School (ICS) of Milwaukee work around the clock to bring Milwaukee native students many opportunities to flourish in their identity. The school prides itself in its seasonally oriented calendar, superb programming and unique curriculum. Manoomin was in the air, literally, as youth took to each manoominikewin station. While manoomin dried on a tarp, students gathered around to learn about the harvesting process and the biological and phenological cycles of the delicate food staple. Audra Williams, Our Ways Coordinator at ICS, assisted in organizing this year’s manoomin camp. “As we are rolling out our new culture calendar this year, we thought it would make more sense to tie into what is going on back home on our tribal lands and what our people are doing seasonally. We are a large school of 377 students and to get students up north to experience the harvesting is a challenge.” Youthlearnedandassistedwitheachstepofthelabor-intensiveprocess.Parch- ing, dancing and winnowing were all enjoyed by hundreds of youth throughout the two-day workshop. In addition, students also assisted staff in constructing rice knockers from cedar logs harvested right on the school property. Williams explains that the manoomin camp is just one piece of the bigger picture. “Our Ways Culture department organized this event to be able to give the students, staff and community the opportunity to start learning about harvesting and why we do it, and how important it is to our survival as our ancestors did this for generations.” In addition to the basic processing steps, modern techniques and equipment were employed for processing at the camp. Students learned both traditional and contemporary processing, which allowed for a great conversation about the bal- ancebetweenoldpracticesandmechanizedtechniques.Studentsandstaffengaged in discussions of rice processing machines and how the design and engineering pertain directly to related STEM fields. The school was challenged to develop and Manoominikewin in Milwaukee By Bizhikiins Jennings, Staff Writer (see Manoomin, page 5)