Wild rice is not actually rice, but a tall, aquatic grass with long blades. It is the only grain native to North America.
Anishinaabeg Manoomin Wild Rice grows wild in the shallows of the Great Lake, and takes its name from from the Anishnaabeg Indians, who continue to harvest it today. “Manoomin” translates to “the good grain.”
In Anishinaabeg oral history, wild rice was a gift: Nanaboozhoo, a cultural hero and hunter, discovered the grain when he came home one night with no game to eat. As he came towards his fire, there was a duck sitting on the edge of his kettle of boiling water. After the duck flew away, Nanaboozhoo, looked into the kettle and found wild rice floating on the water, but he did not know what is was. He ate his supper from the kettle, and it was the best soup he had ever tasted. Later, he followed in the direction that the duck had taken, and came to a lake full of manoomin. After that, he knew where to find food. Earlier teachings of Anishinaabeg history explain that wild rice was the reason for their migration West.
Image courtesy of Slow Foods USA