Lac Courte Oreilles vice chair relishes ricing season

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by Nick Vander Puy
Reserve, Wisconsin (NFICTV)

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe vice chairman Russell "Rusty" Barber holds wild rice (manoomin) in high spiritual regard.  Barber says the Anishinaabe migration hundreds of years ago was motivated by his ancestors being told to migrate to the place "where food grows on water." 

The Ojibwe said they found this place in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

During September, Rusty Barber and his brother Beanie showed up to knock rice on a lake northwest of the LCO reservation in  northern Wisconsin. They've been ricing since they were little boys.

Their niece Melonie is also ricing this year along with other cousins and relatives of the extended family. They make their offerings of tobacco (asema) in the water in thanksgiving for the harvest.

To care for the rice, Barber recommends paying attention to the tribal rice chiefs who know which lakes are healthy and can sustain a harvest. In some years those chiefs have had to limit or close lakes in order to allow them to replenish.

"The rice is looking real good."
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