A turnout of 82 at the August 5 Department of Natural Resources meeting to discuss the upcoming manoomin harvest showed that Band members were ”chomping at the bit” — in the words of DNR Commissioner Katie Draper — to get out in the jiimaan this year.
On the agenda were the formation of a rice committee, the need to pass on ricing knowledge, and the outlook and procedures for the upcoming season.
With the passing of Leonard Sam this past year, the District I and IIa areas are without the leadership of a Rice Chief. Commissioner Draper expressed the importance of talking with community harvesters to hear how they would like to move forward in the absence of Mr. Sam.
Community members said they would like to select an individual following this harvesting season after they see first hand who is involved in the harvest and would be best to fill that role. Attendees also welcomed the idea of a ricing committee.
Several of those in attendance expressed a desire to learn more about rice harvesting and processing, and many others expressed an interest in passing their knowledge and expertise on to others. Amy Wyant of the Early Education Department said the schools would be incorporating ricing into their curriculum this year.
This year’s state harvest season began on August 15, but it was the consensus of those in attendance that the rice would not be ready to pick by then. In general, the rice looks good in the region, although there are areas that were hit by hail.
Ricing hours this year will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any violations or reports of people picking green rice can be directed to DNR staff.
In 2015, the Buck Moore Dam was removed at the outlet of Lake Ogechie to restore rice beds by lowering the lake level. By the next summer, the manoomin was already coming back, but it has not yet been harvested. Consensus at the meeting was that the lake should be left alone for another year to ensure that the rice is well established.
The DNR also put together packages of manoomin to include in the Elder food distribution on August 18. Five hundred pounds of healthy and tasty manoomin were given away!