Wild Rice

(Zizania aquatica) A North American plant, found in marshes, shallow ponds, and by lake shores, etc. It was particularly associated with the Menomini Indians, whose name seems to mean something like "Wild Rice Men", because they were so intimately connected with the harvest and use of the plant. They even transplanted it into new waters. Since it springs up from under the earth and water, it was reckoned to be the gift of the "Underneath" beings. They believed that the birds on their migrations followed these beings, and brought rice to them. The usual harvest season is about the middle of September, when the Menomini gathered in camps on the shores of the lakes. When the rice was heavy, the chief of each band made a sacrifice of tobacco to the "Underneath" beings, the Master of Rice, and begged permission to harvest it (A Skinner).

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