Conserving this Nation’s fish and other aquatic resources cannot be successful without the partnership of Tribes; they manage or influence some of the most important aquatic habitats both on and off reservations. In addition, the Federal government and the Service have distinct and unique obligations toward Tribes based on trust responsibility, treaty provisions, and statutory mandates.
Children from the Mille Lacs Band of Minnesota Chippewa visit Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Approximately 100 school-aged children from three of the four school districts administered by the Mille Lacs Band of Minnesota Chippewa attended a cultural celebration in honor of "Wild Ricing" at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, McGregor, Minn. The refuge hosted the event at its Twin Lakes site. The event opened with a Ojibwe language prayer followed by ceremonial drumming.
Refuge Manager Walt Ford, welcomed participants to the refuge and shared with the group the Rice Lake Refuge vision statement from the 2007 Comprehensive Conservation Plan, that in part states, "...people will be captivated by the sight of rice heads swaying in the wind as far as the eye can see and the sounds of hundreds-of-thousands of ducks, geese and swans feasting on the bounty. American Indians will hand-harvest the rice from their canoes, passing on a tradition to the next generation..."
The activities that followed consisted of storytelling and a photo display of traditional harvesting, while hands-on opportunities were offered on parching, jigging and winnowing of wild rice, harvested on Rice Lake in 2011. All the students were also given an opportunity to taste a wild rice dish that included locally grown berries. Ironically, the students were not able to even see wild rice growing on the refuge due to the flood waters in June destroying this entire year's rice crop.
Refuge staff and Mille Lacs Band school staff are looking for additional opportunities to provide cultural experiential learning on the refuge.