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Native American Wild Rice Mythology

Wild rice, also known as Indian rice, is an important traditional food source for Native American tribes of the Great Lakes region. The Menominee people even take their tribal name from a native word for wild rice (manoomin). Many Native American cultures of this region consider wild rice a sacred gift from the Creator, the culture hero, or a special rice spirit, and there are many Native rituals and ceremonies associated with the wild rice harvest. Besides being an important food crop, wild rice was also traded to tribes who weren't able to collect it themselves in exchange for different goods.

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Wild rice is also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Wild Rice Clans include the Gitksan tribe (whose Wild Rice Clan is called Gitangasx, Kit An Gash, or Git'anrasrh).

Native American Legends About Wild Rice

Indian Wild Rice Story:
    Ojibwe legend about the origin of wild rice.
Indian Country: Wild Rice:
    Wisconsin Indian traditions and tales about wild rice.

Recommended Books of Wild Rice Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Strength of the Earth: The Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants:
    Book of Ojibwe traditions about the meaning of wild rice and other woodland and prairie plants.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American folklore about plant spirits, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Food Plants:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of food plants throughout Native North America.

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