To our Community Members,
Often in our contemporary lifestyles it is easy to forget about the things that are truly precious in the natural world and how unimportant things like the Kardashians or the new social media mobile applications are. It is the gifts from the creator that make Leech Lake an amazing place to live, raise a family, and be Anishinaabe. It is our ability to live this way that will define our future generations, “Mahnomiin Stronghold”.
Green Rice Price Increase
Each season brings a new gathering opportunity. The Leech Lake Band recently finished our ricing season. We saw a historic increase in the purchase price for green rice which effected the entire Great Lakes region. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe took unprecedented measures to increase the green wild rice purchase price for Community Members which hit a 30 year high of $2.50 per pound. A total of $477,644.50 entered the local economy, helping families and providing a boom to local businesses that receive the direct injection of funds into the local economy. Not only were local economies benefiting, LLBO’s per pound price affected pricing state-wide which helped off Reservation gathers who exercised their off Reservation gathering rights in the 1855 treaty area and beyond.
This year the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe used its exclusive jurisdiction over wild rice to ensure that the Band was able to reach a sustainable reserve of wild rice. This level of reserve ensures that if the trucks stopped coming to grocery stores, our government would be able to provide food sovereignty to our Community Members.
2017 Wild Rice Data
The Leech Lake Division of Resource Management purchased wild rice for a total of 24 days ending with a total of 207,273 pounds purchased of green wild rice. Daily activity was up from 45 daily transactions in 2016 to an average of 54 daily transactions this year. This may seem insignificant, however after 10 years of decreasing ricer numbers, an increase in ricers is good news for our community.
Below are the numbers outlining Leech Lake’s 2017 season:
Total Days Buying: 24 Days
Average of Daily Lbs. Purchased: 8,636 lbs
Average Amount of Funds Spent Daily: $19,901
Average Sales per Day: 54 (Increase in daily sales)
Average Amount per Boat (Daily): $368.00 (Equivalent to a $30.00 per hour wage)
Wild Rice Restoration Projects
Leech Lake green wild rice is also being used in restoration projects on the following Reservations:
- Stockbridge Munsee (WI)
- Red Lake Nation
- Prairie Island Indian Community
- Little Traverse Band (MI)
- Lac Du Flambeau (WI)
- Fond Du Lac Band
- Lower Sioux Indian Community
These regional projects include Lake Superior restoration which Fond Du Lac DNR is spearheading using rice from Leech Lake Reservation. Prairie Island DNR is seeding the Mississippi river, so wild rice harvested from the headwaters is now growing in the Mississippi over 200 miles away.
Take a Kid Ricing
On September 9th, at Mud Lake on the eastern side of Leech Lake Reservation, the LLDRM hosted our Take a Kid Ricing Event where we had 58 participants learning about ricing and participating in harvesting. This annual event has reached its 9th year. As a success from this event, this year at the rice buying scale I saw a former youth participant who now, as an adult, is participating in this gathering activity. It’s a great thing to be there when the seed is planted and also as the seed grows into a tree:).
All these activities and economic booms start with one little seed that grows on the waters of Leech Lake “Mahoniin Stronghold”.
My final thought as we move into the next season is that I am proud of Leech Lake, not because we have so much, but more importantly our future generations have so much to be proud of.