Collaboration Overview

Launched in January 2018, Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin (First We Must Consider Manoomin/Psiη) is a collaboration among tribes, intertribal treaty organizations, and University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students, that prioritizes tribal views and needs as we work together to learn about and protect Manoomin / Psiη (Wild Rice). 

Manoomin/Psiη (wild rice) is a sacred plant for Native peoples throughout the Great Lakes region. Unfortunately, Manoomin has been declining due to multiple environmental stressors. Native people who have lived with and stewarded Manoomin / Psiη for generations understand this intimately, but tribal views, concerns, and treaty rights have not been adequately incorporated into University research priorities, nor natural resources policies aimed at protecting wild rice. Protecting fragile Manoomin demands a culturally responsible, whole ecosystem approach to research.

Dynamic Socio-Environmental Interactions.

Manoomin / Psiη is linked to people and ecosystems (outer ring) through multiple social dimensions and biophysical processes (middle ring), which together encompass a coupled socio-environmental manoomin system. Manoomin, according to Anishinaabe traditions, relies on human relationships. Harvesting and ecosystem management are two traditional and contemporary ways Anishinaabe people steward manoomin.

Our Work: 

Protecting Manoomin requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach between Native and non-Native researchers, resource managers, community members, and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Working together, our project aims to do the following: 

  • Address questions identified by tribal resource managers and other tribal community members about the multitude of environmental threats to Manoomin / Psiη, including unnatural water levels, invasive and competing species, and perturbed water and sediment quality;
  • Jointly collect biophysical data in the field including analyses of vegetation, hydrology, geochemistry, sediments, upland ecological conditions, and regional assessments to contextualize findings. Researchers strive to learn from one another while “walking the land” together. 
  • Jointly collect social science data through oral histories, in-depth interviews, harvester surveys, and focus groups with tribal and non-tribal resource managers to understand the influence of values, policies, and practices on Manoomin ecosystems over time. 
  • Formulate  collaborative plans – that prioritize tribal values, knowledge, and needs – for integrating multiple viewpoints into university, state, federal, and tribal policies, with the ultimate goal of protecting tribal resource sovereignty.
  • Finally, we aim to integrate social and environmental components of our work to better interpret our data and support Manoomin, as well as to evaluate and continuously improve the process of collaborative research.


We thank and acknowledge the current and past funding sources/projects. Funding for this work was provided by: 

  • University of Minnesota’s Grand Challenges Initiative and Institute on the Environment: provided funding from 2018-2020
  • National Science Foundation (award number BCS-2009256): a four-year grant beginning in 2021, titled “CNH2-L Wild Rice: A Flagship for Co-Creating Socio-Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous Resource Management.”
  • U.S. Geological Survey Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (award number G21AC10204-00): “Impacts of climate change on vegetation, ecohydrology, and management of Manoomin (wild rice) watersheds.” 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Adaptation Sciences Program (award number NA21OAR4310282): “Harvesting Manoomin as a Climate Adaptation Strategy and Resilience Strategy in the Lake Superior Region.”
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