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Community members gather for Izhi-Ganawendadnamang Nibi, Manoomin (How We Care for the Water and Wild Rice), a presentation by April McCormick at North House Folk School

Jun 03, 2024 10:14AM ● By Content Editor
Photo:  April McCormick, Secretary/Treasurer for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa talked about the importance of good water quality for continued wild rice harvests.

By Tryg Solberg for Boreal Community Media - June 3, 2024

April McCormick presented among a busy weekend of courses and presentations during North House Folk School's Northern Landscapes Festival on Saturday evening. McCormick has served for 10 years as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Band is one of the leaders in water and air quality ordinances and plans that involve conservation, land use, and forest management. They are one of the few Bands that have air and water quality standards that are federally recognized. During the presentation, she also provided a history of the Treaty of 1854 and ceded land. 

McCormick additionally provided insight into their significant relationship with manoomin, food that grows upon the water, or wild rice, is an important part of the culture and connection between members of the tribe. April brought rice stalks and finished rice to pass between audience members. She discussed the importance of increasing the protection of water quality for the continued ability to utilize wild rice harvests. After beginning work with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the 1990s, Grand Portage is still having to pressure them to enforce higher water quality standards, McCormick shared. Higher levels of chemicals, primarily sulfate, can prevent the healthy growth of wild rice. 

The presentation was a call to action for attendees. Spreading awareness about water quality issues in the Midwest, educating others, and supporting policy enforcement are ways that natural resources could be protected. Questions came up from many audience members which dug into issues such as PFAS pollution, government agency involvement, and more. 

 North House Folk School Executive Director Greg Wright welcomes community members to the presentation. 

 McCormick talked about the importance of good water quality for continued wild rice harvests.

Unprocessed wild rice, or "manoomin" was passed around the audience with beautiful shades of tan, green, and purple.

 The red building was filled with community members interested in the Grand Portage Band's work on protecting water quality and wild rice habitat in local lakes.

 After the presentation, audience members had many intriguing questions related to water quality and its governance.


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