The Rights of Manoomin
February 11, 2019 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Why the White Earth Band of Ojibwe Legally Recognized Wild Rice’s Rights: Under the Rights of Nature, the plant—as well as the freshwater resources it needs to survive—now have an inalienable right to exist.

Manoomin (“wild rice”) now has legal rights. At the close of 2018, the White Earth band of Ojibwe passed a law formally recognizing the Rights of Manoomin. According to a resolution, these rights were recognized because “it has become necessary to provide a legal basis to protect wild rice and fresh water resources as part of our primary treaty foods for future generations.”

posted by poffin boffin (12 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
I did a little international environmental law coursework in another life. I don't think about it that much any more because it's not like things have changed for the better... Except in cases like these. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:24 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This is especially important as Minnesota (which surrounds the White Earth Band of Ojibwe's land) is currently thinking about a new crude oil pipeline Line 3 that would go right through the wildrice habitat.

AND at the same time, wild rice habitat is potentially threatened by re-opening a mine (PDF) which could potentially irreversibly impact the water quality.
posted by jillithd at 8:35 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


The law...prohibits law enforcement personnel from arresting or detaining those directly enforcing these rights.

My danger sense just went off there, especially in light of jillthd's comment pointing out that Minnesota wants to run a pipeline though it. I wish them better luck than the Standing Rock Sioux.

The Anishnabe cultural region stretches up into the lake country north and east of Toronto, not far from where I live. I think Rice Lake, a popular fishing ground, is called that because of the wild rice that grows in it (Wikipedia says yes). It's an interesting environment, shallow and flat along the shore just a few feet under the water. It made me think of rice paddies, though much less cultivated to the unsuspecting eye. I understand it's spread by the local bands and has an eye kept on it by same, though.
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:00 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This legal act and this article (by Winona LaDuke, even!) are both awesome... the last paragraph, in particular, is just killer. Despite my distaste for corporate rights it's never occurred to me to contrast corporate personhood with the extent of rights for marginalized actual people. Per Wikipedia, for relative dates:
A headnote issued by the Court Reporter in the 1886 Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. claimed to state the sense of the Court regarding the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as it applies to corporations, without the Court having actually made a decision or issued a written opinion on that point. This was the first time that the Supreme Court was reported to hold that the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause granted constitutional protections to corporations as well as to natural persons, although numerous other cases, since Dartmouth College v. Woodward in 1819, had recognized that corporations were entitled to some of the protections of the Constitution.
posted by XMLicious at 9:10 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


TIL the word usufructuary!
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:28 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


The Anishnabe cultural region stretches up into the lake country north and east of Toronto, not far from where I live. I think Rice Lake, a popular fishing ground, is called that because of the wild rice that grows in it (Wikipedia says yes). It's an interesting environment, shallow and flat along the shore just a few feet under the water.

Yep! Pigeon Lake as well.

Drew Hayden Taylor's recent play "Cottagers and Indians" is about exactly this:

The wild rice on Pigeon Lake has been such a contentious issue around Peterborough, Ont., that playwright Drew Hayden Taylor wrote a play about it.

“The title itself, Cottagers and Indians is a play on cowboys and Indians,” he said. “And I think what is different about this play for other people is that it’s an exploration of contemporary native and non native relationships.”

The tension started three years ago when cottagers on Pigeon Lake began pulling what they call a nuisance weed from the rice beds.

Things came to a head once again two weeks ago at a local meeting where cottagers and Indigenous groups faced off. in public about wild rice.

As they were set to begin the meeting, the power went out that sent everyone home.

Pigeon Lake is located in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe.


Another interview with Hayden Taylor here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:22 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The Anishnabe cultural region stretches up into the lake country north and east of Toronto, not far from where I live. I think Rice Lake, a popular fishing ground, is called that because of the wild rice that grows in it

..And there's a fantastic, funny and timely play about the conflict between cottagers and manoomin rice growers on right now at Tarragon Theatre, by Drew Hayden Taylor: Cottagers and Indians.
posted by girlpublisher at 10:27 AM on February 11


I spent three days harvesting wild rice this last August. It’s a lot of work but suprisingly accessible and there are ponds just north of the Twin Cities. A friend of mine has a new company that is working on methods of cleaning water to make wild rice viable. It’s a very sensitive species and currently there aren’t a lot of effective measurements on water quality or methods for cleaning that water once it’s damaged by runoff etc.

If you ever get a chance to take part in a harvest or harvest some yourself I highly recommend it.
posted by misterpatrick at 10:34 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


A timely opinion piece about MN Legislature and wild rice on MinnPost: Protecting wild rice: The Minnesota Legislature has a chance to redeem itself
posted by jillithd at 10:42 AM on February 11


As jillithd points out, there are very worrisome plans to do copper-nickel mining in the water-rich environment of Northern Minnesota. The sulfide mining tailings (which from this mining are to be held in a reused tailings basin for hundreds of years, where they have the potential to be flushed out by a flooding event or a tailings dam collapse as has happened recently in Brazil and happened at Mount Polley Mine in Canada. This could pollute Lake Superior or the Boundary Waters, depending on which watershed the tailings are stored in.
posted by larrybob at 11:01 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


This could pollute Lake Superior or the Boundary Waters, depending on which watershed the tailings are stored in.

That close to the Laurentian Divide, you may not have to choose!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:34 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Definitely on Team Wild Rice here: it's delicious, and it annoys cottagers. Doppio win con panna!
posted by scruss at 1:05 PM on February 11


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