Center for Environmental Rights: White Earth Tribal Law: Recognizing the Rights of Manoomin

Anishinaabe culture and lifeways have been greatly threatened due to settler colonialism. The 1854 and 1855 treaties between Anishinaabe tribes and the US government are supposed to protect the rights of tribal members to access their traditional foods and medicines. For Anishinaabe people, manoomin is the primary sacred food source that not only ensured the tribe’s survival historically, but is also an integral part of the prophecy which pushed the tribes to migrate to the “land where food grows on the water.” For Anishinaabe people, all of existence has it’s own spirit, including manoomin, and so the White Earth tribe decided to bestow manoomin with legal rights as a “person” or legal entity. This, and similar work in protection of our non-human relations, is crucial in the quest to protect the land and water for future generations. The Niibi Center has been a community partner with the White Earth tribe in defining the policies at a Tribal level that can enforce their declaration of the inherent rights of manoomin.

Exerpt from the article:

In 2018, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe – part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – adopted its “Rights of Manoomin” law.  The law protects legal rights of manoomin, or wild rice, securing on- and off-reservation protection of manoomin, as well as protection of the fresh water resources and habitats on which it depends. The 1855 Treaty Authority adopted the Rights of Manoomin as well.  

The White Earth tribal resolution accompanying the law explained that “it has become necessary to provide a legal basis to protect wild rice and fresh water resources as part of our primary treaty foods for future generations.”  This comes as wild rice, a traditional staple and sacred food for the White Earth Band, faces significant impacts from pipeline construction, habitat loss, climate change, development, genetic engineering, and other threats.
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