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Restoring Mnomen, a Step on the Path to Reconciliation

Restoring Mnomen, a Step on the Path to Reconciliation

Photo credit: Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

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)
  • Samantha Stokes - U-M SEAS
  • Maeghen Goode - U-M SEAS/TCAUP
  • Scott Herron - Ferris State University
  • Kyle Whyte - Michigan State University
  • 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

Project Summary

Although mistaken for a wetland plant of only the far north, Mnomen (wild rice, Zizania aquatica Z. 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—aimed to build a partnership of Anishinaabek community members, tribal nations, U-M faculty, and allies at other Michigan universities. Tribal partners contributed with time-tested traditional ecological knowledge and years of hard-earned experience in Mnomen socio-ecology, while regional wild rice experts brought the range of available current knowledge and best practices. Together, the group was able to assess the feasibility of Mnomen restoration on ten U-M properties and propose a pilot restoration project on the most appropriate site, exemplifying sustainability grounded in reconciliation principles.

For more details, read the final project report (PDF).

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