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Wild Rice Harvesting

Harvested in the early autumn, wild rice was an immensely important commodity to Native Americans, particularly the Ojibwe and Menominee, who lived in the areas where it grew abundantly. The Menominee even took their name from the Indian word for wild rice, manomin, and were often referred to as the Wild Rice People by Europeans.

According to Menominee oral traditions, wild rice was a gift to humans from one of the Underneath Beings. When the rice was mature, the Menominee offered tobacco to this spirit to insure a good harvest. After that, the Underneath spirits and the Thunderbirds could claim... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A Ho-Chunk warrior cautiously acknowledges the U.S. in 1816.  A Ho-Chunk warrior cautiously acknowledges the U.S. in 1816.
Link to article: A brief look at the use of wild rice among Indians  A brief look at the use of wild rice among Indians
Link to book: An anthropologist gives a comprehensive account of wild rice, 1634-1900  An anthropologist gives a comprehensive account of wild rice, 1634-1900
Link to book: Fr. Baraga's 1853 Ojibwe Dictionary  Fr. Baraga's 1853 Ojibwe Dictionary
Link to book: Report on the Menominee at Termination, 1958  Report on the Menominee at Termination, 1958
Link to images: Pictures of wild rice harvesting and preparation  Pictures of wild rice harvesting and preparation
Link to places: Madeline Island Historical Museum  Madeline Island Historical Museum

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to article: An early French overview of Wisconsin  An early French overview of Wisconsin
Link to article: A description of the harvesting and cooking of wild rice, 1854  A description of the harvesting and cooking of wild rice, 1854
Link to book: Henry Schoolcraft's Personal Memoirs (1812-1842)  Henry Schoolcraft's Personal Memoirs (1812-1842)
Link to book: The death of Father Rene Menard.  The death of Father Rene Menard.
Link to images: Images of Ojibwe harvesting wild rice  Images of Ojibwe harvesting wild rice

Related Links

Visit the Web site of the Menominee Indian Tribe
Discover the standard book about Wisconsin Indians, by Patty Loew
Discover classroom resources available from our Office of School Services
The Sokoagon Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe provide a history of wild rice
An overview of wild rice harvesting from the Milwaukee Public Museum
Search our catalogs for materials on this topic that aren't yet available online.
Borrow books about this topic through our interlibrary loan service
Borrow manuscripts about this topic through our Area Research Center network.
Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Arrange a tour on this topic at our Museum

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