Synopses & Reviews
Wild rice has always been essential to life in the Upper Midwest and neighboring Canada. In this far-reaching book, Thomas Vennum, Jr., uses travelers' narratives, historical and ethnological accounts, scientific data, historical and contemporary photographs and sketches, his own field work, and the words of Indian people to examine the importance of this wild food to the Ojibway people. He details the technology of harvesting and processing, from seventeenth-century reports though modern mechanization. He explains the important place of wild rice in Ojibway ceremony and legend and depicts the rich social life of the traditional rice camps. And he reviews the volatile issues of treaty rights and litigations involving Indian problems in maintaining this traditional resource.
A staple of the Ojibway diet and economy for centuries, wild rice has now become a gourmet food. With twentieth-century agricultural technology and paddy cultivation, white growers have virtually removed this important source of income from Indain hands. Nevertheless, the Ojibway continue to harvest and process rice each year. It remains a vital part of their social, cultural, and religious life.
About the Author
Thomas Vennum, Jr., is senior ethnomusicologist, Office of Folklife Programs at the Smithsonian Institution and author of The Ojibway Dance Drum: Its History and Construction.