Project Overview

Launched in January 2018, Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin (First We Must Consider Manoomin/Psin) is a collaboration among tribes, intertribal treaty organizations, and University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students, that prioritizes tribal views on the cultural significance and ecology of Manoomin / Psiη (Wild Rice), and the policies related to it.

Project Description:

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 manoomin / psiη for generations understand this intimately, but tribal views, concerns, and treaty rights have not been adequately incorporated into natural resources policies. Protecting tribal resource sovereignty demands a culturally responsible, whole ecosystem approach to environmental stewardship.


Dynamic Socio-Environmental Interactions.

Manoomin 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 project aims to center tribal perspectives and research questions. In continuing collaboration with tribal project partners, members of affected communities, and other stakeholders, we will:

  • Address questions identified by tribal resource managers and other tribal community members about the multitude of environmental threats to Manoomin / psiη (wild rice), including unnatural water levels, invasive and competing species, and perturbed water and sediment quality;
  • Analyze existing documents and conduct new interviews to understand how Native voices have been marginalized in policy development, including information on the historical distribution of Manoomin / psiη (wild rice) waters and the cultural value of Manoomin / psiη (wild rice);
  • Formulate a collaborative plan – one that prioritizes 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.