Metro youth learn the art of sowing wild rice

Seeding the future with a tradition

This summer, a dozen students from American Indian Opportunity Center’s High School helped with Great River Greening’s multi-year effort to restore wild rice to the Rum River.

Photos: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Setting out in canoes provided by partner, Wilderness Inquiry, and led by our staff ecologist, Wiley Buck, the students seeded the river’s shoreline, backwaters and oxbows in Becklin Homestead Park and Wildlife Management Area, Cambridge, MN. Star Tribune reporter, Pam Louwagie, and photographer, Elizabeth Flores, also joined the trip.

wildrice-seeding3Since 2012, Great River Greening has worked in collaboration with Minnesota DNR, Isanti County, and private landowners to restore 100 acres of wild rice to the river.

“The dense, nutritious stalks of wild rice stabilize water quality and nourish and protect wildlife. But, it relies solely on heavy seeding.”
Great River Greening ecologist Wiley Buck

Photo by Star Tribune Photographer Elizabeth Flores

For many of the students, this was their first experience of the beauty and wonder of a Wild and Scenic River, and the day-long canoe and wading expedition engaged them in restoring a natural resource that has played a central role in many Native American diets, cultures and economies, for centuries.

Reporter, Pam Louwagie interviewed many of the students, including Hailie Woodard, “a student and lifelong city dweller, who is part American Indian and had never seen the stalks of wild rice that were once so integral to indigenous life.”

“It’s good to know what you are. If you don’t know what you are, you’re just lost.”
Hallie, to the Star Tribune reporter.

LINK to the Star Tribune article
PHOTOS 2 & 3:Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune