More on the Manoomin Project – U.P. program for Juvenile Court youth

From Indian Country Today:Manoomin Project teaches at-risk youth respect, culture Posted: November 21, 2007 by: Greg Peterson

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  Photo courtesy Greg Peterson/second photo courtesy Steve Durocher — The Manoomin Project teaches at-risk teens – sentenced in juvenile court for minor crimes – respect for themselves, Native heritage and nature. The teens study and plant wild rice, and learn how the grain is used in ceremonies. Don Chosa, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, guides the students on the outings. Teens and volunteers, who later planted wild rice, were shown young plants prior to the July 2006 survey. The teens were then asked to identify the wild rice – mixed with other plants – at the seven remote planting sites.  

MARQUETTE, Mich. – American Indians have long known the medicinal and spiritual benefits of manoomin; but along the shores of Lake Superior in northern Michigan, a wild rice restoration project is teaching non-Native teenagers respect for American Indian culture and the environment.”This is about respect for nature,” the Rev. Jon Magnuson said to a rambunctious group of teenagers.

On the first of a three-day outing in July 2006, the teens were embarking on a several-mile hike into the remote Northwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to study the previous year’s wild rice crop.

It wasn’t long before those teens topped a hill and surprised two bear cubs that scrambled up a tree about 50 yards away.

”Look – there are two bears,” said a teenage boy motioning to others to run toward the cubs.

Their guide, Don Chosa, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, knew that meant a protective mother wasn’t far away.

”Remember what I said about respect,” Chosa said – and the curious teens stopped in their tracks.

Chosa instructed the youth to give the cubs a wide berth.

The Manoomin Project teaches at-risk teens – sentenced in juvenile court for minor crimes – respect for themselves, Native heritage and nature. The teens study and plant wild rice, and learn how the grain is used in ceremonies.

Since 2004, about 130 teens and dozens of adult volunteers have planted more than a ton of wild rice seed in U.P. waters, where it once thrived but disappeared a century ago due to logging and other human activities.

The project is sponsored by the Cedar Tree Institute, the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

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