Stop the Patenting of Wild Rice
TITLE: New Threats to Manoomin
Dear Civil Society,
The Anishinaabeg -- the Native American tribes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada who have cultivated Manoomin (Wild Rice) for thousands of years -- have started a dialogue on how to protect wild rice as an indigenous resource. The following information was produced by the White Earth Land Recovery Project as a result of a collaborative meeting between representatives of many Native American (American Indian) tribes.
Your support will be critical in protecting wild rice from corporate takeover. Wild rice is not only an important economic source of wealth for the Anishinaabeg. It is also integral to their spirituality. Please help to stop this cultural genocide.
Contact the White Earth Land Recovery Project at the number or email below and let them know you are willing to provide whatever help necessary to protect Manoomin.
The Anishinaabeg to protect wild rice biodiversity
Wild rice (or manoomin), cultivated by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, is coming under threat of hybridization and genetic modification. The Anishinaabeg-- tribes and First Nations in the Great Lakes states and provinces of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario and Quebec-- have started a dialogue on how to protect the native, genetically unmodified biodiversity of wild rice as a cultural resource.
Two hybrid strains of wild rice industrially bred for sterility have already received patents. Increasing sterility of wild rice will likely require rice growers to constantly purchase seed to replenish rice beds. Hybridization of wild rice also poses the threat of causing genetic extinction of native wild rice. The genome of wild rice has also recently been mapped, the first step needed for future investments into genetic modification. Genetically modified rice has the potential to irreversibly alter natural strains of wild rice if released into the environment.
Tribes and First Nations are being encouraged to protect native wild rice�s genetic biodiversity and this important cultural resource. For more information, or to help in this effort, please contact: White Earth Land Recovery Project, ph: 1-888-779-3577, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This email is to update you on some correspondence I have conducted to prepare for our upcoming meeting. Please read the following and if you have any questions please email or call me. Again the meeting is March 20th at the Fond Du Lac Community Center in Cloquet Minnesota.
1) Suggestions from IATP (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and constituents)
With the IATP�s help our information from our last meeting and the consensus we came to has been sent out to other groups and communities that are struggling with issues of bio-colonialism, bio-piracy and environmental injustice world wide. The momentum that is building internationally will aid us in the actions we take here regionally and nationally.
A media campaign as one of the strategies we came to consensus on would be an action that would bring public awareness to this issue regionally and nationally. Utilizing our entire email and distribution list we can send out updates and pass information onto our communities. (Working with University Green Party groups, IATP and other grassroots organizations)
File a reexamination claim of the previous patents that have been obtained. This process is expensive and lengthy and would require legal assistance. This is something would need to discuss further and come to consensus upon. I have all the guidelines and procedure available. If you would like to look at them or have a copy please let me know.
The development of a tangible local strategy for each of respective communities that would inform the public and our families as to the threats against our Manoomin. This can be done through community forums, talking circles, ceremony and countless other ways. The informational brochure is available and the development of possible teaching tools is also underway. Please contact WELRP if you would like to help with the formation of additional educational materials. Some examples are: posters, power point presentations, and videos)
At present a letter writing campaign is being incited as a way to bring about a possible injunction against the University for their continued work on additional patents in Manoomin.
One of the main issues surrounding the University actions is the fact they are not willing nor have been active is being open about the proceedings of research regarding wild rice. The fact they are not discussing fully their research, the rational for doing it or the possible implication with the Native peoples, especially after request that they do by the Native community, is viewed as discriminatory
Also: Here are contact numbers for Hotels in the area if you need to make arrangements. -Super 8 Hotel Cloquet MN: 1-218-879-1250 -American Inn Cloquet MN: 1-218-879-1231 -Black Bear Casino Cloquet MN: 1-218-878-7434
** A draft agenda will be sent out this week for your review and comments.**
North Country Cooperative Presents:
Bio-colonialism: Wild Rice Threatened?
Here is the Petition to Stop the Bio-Piracy of Wild Rice. Please take time to read this and to email WELRP as your means of signing onto this petition. We need your Name/Organizational Name and Region or Location.
Thank you for your support and aid in fighting this threat to the sacredness of Manoomin. Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns.
WHITE EARTH LAND RECOVERY PROJECT and COALITION PETITION IN SUPPORT
OF STOPPING WILD RICE BIO-PIRACY
Chippewa rice beds succumb to development, pollution
By Peter Rebhahn
Green Bay Press-Gazette
June 23, 2003
MOLE LAKE - Sokaogon Chippewa tribe elder Fred Ackley learned everything he needed to know about wild rice from his grandmother.
"That was our life at one time out here," said Ackley with a nod at nearby Rice Lake, home to the Chippewa's ancestral rice beds.
Gaming now occupies the place in the lives of Native Americans once filled by hunting and gathering. Times change.
The rice beds remain, but the ancient knowledge Ackley learned from his ancestors may not be enough to guarantee the beds' future. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is studying wild rice here with the aim of saving what's left of Wisconsin's native rice beds and seeding promising wetlands that may never have been home to the plant.
Members of the Native American Journalists Association, in Green Bay this past week for the organization's 19th annual convention, toured ecological points of interest in or near some of the Indian reservations in the state. The visit to Rice Lake was part of the tour.
"We know we've lost a lot of rice beds in the historical perspective," biologist Peter David of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission said. "It's harder to know what's happening in the near term."
The commission was formed in 1984 in the wake of confrontations between native and nonnative populations over Indian fish spearing and other off-reservation treaty rights.
Scientists have learned much about wild rice, or 'manoomin' in the Chippewa language, since the commission began a database on the plant 15 years ago.
"By and large, for rice, it hasn't been good," David said.
David estimates Wisconsin has lost at least half the wild rice beds the state's wetlands once held. Wetland loss, pollution and shoreline development have all taken a toll.
Even motorized boat traffic harms the plants, especially now, in mid-June, when the tender leaves float on the water surface. "People may not know what it is growing off the end of their dock," David said.
Wild rice is an annual plant that grows anew from seed every year. It's very sensitive to changes in water levels. The plants grow best in water 1 to 2 feet deep. Some year-to-year fluctuation in water level is good for the plants, as long as it's moderate.
"You can drown a rice bed very easily," David said. Many dams across the state have done exactly that.
David said the Chippewa and other tribes have been a 'catalyst' in a reseeding effort that has planted from three to seven tons of seed in promising Great Lakes wetlands annually in recent years.
"We're just trying to hold on to what we have here," Ackley said.
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