Saying MANOOMIN instead of wild rice

By Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country 10-09

I was visiting with Charlie Nahganub at the kitchen table when he suggested saying MANOOMIN instead of wild rice. I liked the idea so much I have decided not to use those words anymore, unless I am talking about that black paddy rice peddled all over Minnesota highways.

Longtime readers of the Follies might remember when I banned a word from my vocabulary before. It was 17 years ago when I gave the word Indian a break. I quit saying the word for a year because of that Christopher Columbus nonsense. This is the same idea, remove wild rice from my speech and writing. This time, however, I won’t give my sons a dollar every time I slip up and say wild rice.

Instead of making rice I will say MANOOMINIKE. The paddy rice makers can keep those old words – wild rice for their product. I shall use the older word MANOOMIN for that plant that we turn into food.


Question of the Month

Q…..What do you call a

Shinnob with no lips?



My son Jim and I went to Dead Fish Lake for Manoominike. The Rez had decided to open this particular lake for elders only. The notice said people would be admitted to the lake on a first come-first served basis. According to the rules Manoominike would begin at 1000. We wanted to be able to use that lake so we planned to be standing tall on the lakeshore at 0700.

wild_wild_09fdl_launch.jpgWe left the house at 0730 after packing and loading the asema, canoe, lunch, coffee, water, and knockers on the truck. We headed for the lake, I was doing my mental checklist when oops, had forgotten the pole. I turned the truck around and went home to get the pole.

Then we headed for the lake.

Tysa Goodrich followed, she is writing a novel and one of her characters goes to the lake for manoomin. She didn’t know anything about manoomin so she flew in from California to do her research.

She came to the Rez a couple days early so we put her to work splitting and stacking firewood. I told her there was more to manoominike than just gliding around in a canoe. She was apprehensive about hitting her foot with the ax but after she conquered her fears she was able to split a log after many whacks She was better at stacking than splitting.

[We drove to the lake hoping to be the first to sign up. When we got there I discovered nitaawisag Rick Defoe and Leo Peterson were already there, apparently they didn’t have to go back home for a pole.

Jim and I began visiting with our cousins. I signed up with the Rez game wardens and noticed the dew was burning off the lake as the sun got stronger. Tysa looked out at the growing manoomin and wanted to know where the lake was located. Using his lips, Jim pointed it out to her, she thought the manoomin was a field of grass.

We put our canoe in the lake and loaded the tools. In looking around the lake I remembered back to all my relatives who had gathered here for manoominike. I looked over to the north side of the lake and remembered my grandfather grew up there more than a hundred years ago. I was connected to those generations.

Other Shinnobs from Fond du Lac began arriving and signing up with the game wardens. Laughing and visiting broke out immediately. People were helping others take the canoes off the cars and trucks.

We harvested manoomin. We brought it home and spread it out in the sun. We fired up the big cast iron kettle and parched our manoomin.

After the first day of the harvest I got some numbers from Charlie Nahganub. 75 canoes went out on the first day. The Rez bought 10, 600 pounds of manoomin. Five canoes didn’t sell their rice to the Rez.


Fans of Older Than America, the full length feature film made almost entirely on the Fond du Lac Reservation, will have a chance to see the movie on little screens in their homes

I was visiting with Georgina, actor and director, I learned she had signed a contract with IFC, channel 131 on my satellite, and the movie will be shown first as a pay-per-view for 90 days and DVDs will then become available.

I want to see my wife, my son, my friends, my house, my back yard, my fire pit, my Pendleton blanket, my Rez and my Corvette on the screen again so I will do that pay-per-view thing and will later buy a DVD. Jeez, Hollywood moves, almost as slow as the housing list.


Mii iw

Mii sa iw

The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to represent this newspaper, this Rez, or Fonjalckers anywhere. Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, Mn 55780-0016, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. web page: Northrup