Title VII > Past Projects

Wild Rice Cultural Awareness and Ecological Restoration Project

The Wild Rice Cultural Awareness and Ecological restoration project aims to increase awareness of the cultural, historical, and ecological importance of wild rice. It will provide classrooms with resources on indigenous knowledge systems and their relevance to ecological science and sustainable resource management. It aims to increase the interest in Environmental Science among middle school students, increase awareness of native heritage in context of modern ecology, and make connections to indigenous systems & values.

Approximately 10 core students will receive (6)- 3 day weeks of training to develop background and instructional materials, including a website for science classrooms to serve as "experts" for classroom activities involving wild rice in the fall of 2005-06 school year. The student leadership group will guide peers in the use of these materials and develop a resource guide for wider community use. Activities include: compilation of historical, cultural, and biological information on wild rice; documentation of the status of wild rice beds in southern Wisconsin through field research and interviews of native and non-native experts; identification of genetic stocks through photos and journals; and development and creation of a website, including a guide for gathering and cultivating seeds for experimentation and demonstrations of Ojibwe traditional harvesting and reseeding. This project thus engages both native and non-native students in research and management activities that provide knowledge of the historical, cultural importance of wild rice to Native American communities in the context of modern plant biology and restoration ecology.

To this day, Anishinaabeg people gather wild rice using a traditional harvesting method. During the late summer, Native American ricers give thanks to Gitchi-Manidoo (Great Spirit) and spirits of plants, water, and Earth for these gifts. This indigenous knowledge system provides interconnectedness between humans and plants and teaches respect for the balance of ecological systems. The delicate balance has been upset through habitat destruction. Pollution has destroyed and continues to threaten many ricing grounds. Wildrice is a natural water cleaning plant that helps filter the lake and rivers from contaminants. This website can assist teachers and students understand the value of ecological harmony using indigenous systems of knowledge, how to grow wild rice seedlings, and steps to restore lakes and river edges.


Updated: January 12, 2009
Authors: Wild Rice AISES Middle School Chapter, Facilitated by Joni Theobald (jtheobald@madison.k12.wi.us)
Web Editor & Publisher: Paula Srite, psrite@madison.k12.wi.us
Webmaster: webmaster@madison.k12.wi.us
Website has been generously supported by the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools