MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University will host the premiere of a documentary about the cultural significance of wild rice to the Ojibwe people and their efforts to protect rice beds from corporate and environmental threats. The premiere is scheduled for Friday, April 15. It will be preceded by a tasting of wild rice dishes and followed by a post-screening reception. The public is invited to attend any or all events.

            The evening gets under way with a wild rice sampler from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Jacobetti Center cafeteria. It will feature a competition for best dish in the categories of traditional and contemporary adaptations. Entries must use traditionally harvested wild rice available from the Center for Native American Studies at NMU or from the Marquette Food Co-op. Those who contribute a food dish will receive two free admissions to the sampler and the film premiere. Otherwise, the cost to attend the sampler is $4.

            The premiere of Manoomin (Wild Rice): Ojibwe Spirit Food will be held from 7:30-8:45 p.m. in room 102 Jamrich Hall. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. The film was produced by Michael Loukinen, a sociology professor at NMU. Most of the video was recorded in the vicinity of the Lac Vieux Desert community near Watersmeet.

            "Ojibwe youth are losing the wild ricing traditions of their ancestors due to the deaths of knowledgeable elders and the harmful environmental pressures impacting their sacred lake, Lac Vieux Desert," Loukinen said. "There has long been an identity between the lake and the tribe. This video will preserve the ricing traditions for future generations and tell us a great deal about the history of the lake."

            The documentary covers the practices of planting, rice-boat building, harvesting, parching, winnowing and cooking wild rice before eating it at a traditional feast. It also shows the teaching of these traditions to Ojibwe children. The film incorporates live-action scenes with historical photographs, animation, music and narration.

           The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa first contacted Loukinen in 1996, after members became increasingly aware of the loss of their traditional elders. They approved a two-pronged project: building a digital archive of video, sound and transcribed text to preserve their tribal heritage; and completing a series of documentaries designed to increase the understanding of and appreciation for the tribe's heritage.

           Ojibwe Teachings was the first film in the series and Manoomin, which was three years in the making, is the second. Major funding for the project was provided by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Lac Vieux Desert Band, NMU's department of sociology and social work, and the College of Professional Studies.

           A post-screening reception will be held at 9:15 p.m. in the commons area of Whitman Hall. There is no charge to attend. The reception is sponsored by the Native American Student Association and hosted by the Cedar Tree Institute.

           For more information, contact Loukinen at (906)227-2041 or the Center for Native American Studies at (906)227-1397.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director