Middle School (9 - 14) Books

THE SACRED HARVEST: OJIBWAY WILD RICE GATHERING by Gordon Regguinti, with photographs by Dale Kakkak. Lerner Publications Company, 241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401, 800/328-4929. Illustrated, map, bibliography, glossary. 48 pp., $6.95 paper.0-8225-9620-2, Middle School

To the Ojibway of northern Minnesota, wild rice is called mahnomin. Eleven-year-old Glen Jackson, Jr., who lives on the Leech Lake Reservation, excitedly helps his father drag the canoe to the Bowstring River to take part in his first harvest of mahnomin, a sacred food, a gift from the Creator.

The reader tags along, as Glen's father shows him how to maneuver the canoe, how to tell if rice is ready to harvest (it's dark brown in color), and how to use a knocker to bend the rice and another to dislodge the grains into the canoe. At his grandmother's house, Glen learns to parch the rice (cooking it over a low fire to separate the grain from the husk), then place the grain in a wooden basket and dance on it (called "jiggling") for further separation, and finally, he winnows the rice for final separation.

Grandma Susan cooks up the rice grains, and gives thanks to the Creator for the harvest before giving Glen his first taste of the grain that means survival to his tribe. The tribe also sells the rice commercially under the name Leech Lake Wild Rice.

The book also recounts a short Ojibway tribal history, locates the seven Ojibway reservations on a map of Minnesota, and describes the market for commercially-grown wild rice. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Steve Brock

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: 6/6/97