Graham Sustainability Institute

Restoring Mnomen, a Step on the Path to Reconciliation

Project Summary

Although mistaken for a wetland plant of only the far north, Mnomen (wild rice, Zizania aquaticaZ. palustris) is a staple food for Anishinaabek peoples across the Great Lakes—including those who once made their home on lands now owned by U-M. But after centuries of ecological degradation across Michigan’s lower peninsula, Mnomen now survives in just a fraction of its former abundance.

This project—called the Mnomen Initiative—aims to build a partnership of Anishinaabek community members, tribal nations, U-M faculty, and allies at other Michigan universities. Tribal partners will contribute time-tested traditional ecological knowledge and years of hard-earned experience in Mnomen socio-ecology, while regional wild rice experts will bring the range of available current knowledge and best practices. Together, the group will assess the feasibility of Mnomen restoration on ten U-M properties and propose a pilot restoration project on the most appropriate site, exemplifing sustainability grounded in reconciliation principles.

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2020.

Project Team

David Michener - U-M Botanical Gardens (PI)
Rebecca Hardin - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS)
Gregory Dowd - U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
Benjamin Secunda - U-M Office of Research (UMOR)
Scott Herron - Ferris State University
Kyle Whyte - Michigan State University
Samantha Stokes - U-M SEAS
Maeghen Goode - U-M SEAS/TCAUP
Manavi Jaluka - Vassar University 
Doug Taylor - Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi
John Rodwan - Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi
Eric Kerney - Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi
Gary Morseau - Pokagon Band of Potawatomi
Marcus Winchester - Pokagon Band of Potawatomi
Christine Morseau - Pokagon Band of Potawatomi
Shannon Martin - Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
Carey Pauquette - Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
Kathy Hart - Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
William Johnson - Michigan Anishinaabe Cultural and Repatriation Alliance
Alex Wieten - Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake) Band of Potawatomi Indians
Montana Riley - Walpole Island Cultural Center
Roger Labine - Lac Vieux Desert
Ricki Oldencamp - Pierce Cedar Creek Institute
Corey Lucas - Pierce Cedar Creek Institute
Barb Barton - author of Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan
Lee Sprague - Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake) Band of Potawatomi Indians