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“Wild rice is an important part of the history and tradition of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people in the prairies. In the Ojibwe language, the word “man-o-min” derives from Manitou (the Great Spirit) and meenun (delicacy). Wild rice is not a part of the rice family at all. It is a grass that grows in shallow, slow moving water near the shores of lakes, rivers and streams.

Wild rice was prepared and served in many ways. Often it was cooked in soups, or boiled with meat, fish, roe, or with blueberries or other fruits. The cooked grain was also eaten plain, boiled or steamed, and eaten with sweets such as maple sugar.

True wild rice is indigenous to northwestern Ontario, southwestern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, and in the cold lakes of Saskatchewan. Wild rice is found mainly along the shores of rivers and streams in shallow water, where it often forms dense, continuous beds. It also occurs along lakeshores, though less abundant. The traditional method of harvesting rice was to paddle a canoe through the wild rice stands, and with sticks or paddles sweep the tall grass-like stalks inside the canoe so that the grain would separate and drop to the bottom. Then the green rice was brought to shore and roasted to a shiny brownish black over an open fire. (This step is called parching). The rice would be placed in blankets or baskets where someone would “dance” or “jig” on it to separate the rice from the husk. Finally, the rice would be tossed in the air so the wind could blow away the husk. This step is called winnowing.

Manoomin is traditionally used in many ceremonies and feasts. Every fall (late September to early October) during the wild rice moon, Ojibwe families would gather in their canoes and set out for the lakes to hand harvest the wild rice. During this harvest, a ceremony was done to give thanks to the Great Spirit for the gift of wild rice.

Wild rice is a healthy carbohydrate that is higher in protein (builds and repairs our muscles, skin and blood) and fibre (lowers blood sugar levels) than white rice and will help you feel full longer. Wild rice is also higher in antioxidants than regular white rice, which can help protect us from certain diseases and keep us healthy.”

Source- National Indigenous Diabetes Association: Gifts from Our Relations 054235_8f67627cd252482897459a7aff0ce0c6.pdf

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