Protect “Manoomin” Wild Rice from Sulfates, say Native Americans

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Video by Kristin Larsen

A group of Anishinaabeg and non-Native peoples gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday to protest proposed legislative changes that would remove the protection of “Manoomin,” or Minnesota wild rice from harmful sulfates. Native peoples consider Manoomin a spiritual food and a gift from their creator.

Mining in sulfide mineral areas causes sulfates to enter the water system. Wild rice, the state’s official grain, does not thrive if the water has more than 10 parts per liter of sulfate. This standard has been in place for years and is based on strong scientific evidence. Environmental activists are concerned that acid mine runoff will contaminate water and kill the wild rice, which is economically and spiritually important to local Anishinabeg people. Mining companies Polymet and Glencore are leading the charge in northeast Minnesota — an area targeted for minerals and mining development, from Aitkin to Ely.

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Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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