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Advocates Hope White Earth Wild Rice Case Will Boost 'Rights of Nature'

Dale Greene grew up in north-central Minnesota, surrounded by wild rice, called manoomin in the Ojibwe language. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe member says wild rice is an important part of Anishinaabe history and culture.

"One of the things that I think is really important in understanding manoomin, and its importance to us today, is understanding that there's a creation story," said Greene. 

The story recounts how Ojibwe people migrated to Minnesota from the East Coast to fulfill a prophecy that they would find food growing on the water. That food was manoomin, or the “good berry,” and it sustained generations of Ojibwe. 

"It's the the reason that we're still here. It's much more than just a plant,” said Greene.

In 2018, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe formally recognized the rights of wild rice, setting the stage for the current lawsuit against the DNR.