Wild rice was a staple on our Thanksgiving table that goes as far back as I can remember. Along with the song “Over the River and Through the Woods” and the Macy’s Day Parade and the Rockettes Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, nothing fills my heart more than wild rice.
Wild rice has an amazing crunchy, nutty taste and guess what? It’s actually a type of grass and it’s healthy! There was a time when wild rice was difficult to find during the holiday season. Now, fortunately for vegans and vegetarians, it’s on local supermarket shelves throughout the year.
Wild rice, also known as Indian rice, is an important traditional food source for Native American tribes of the Great Lakes region. The Menominee people even take their tribal name from a native word for wild rice (manoomin). Many Native American cultures of this region consider wild rice a sacred gift from the Creator, the culture hero, or a special rice spirit, and there are many Native rituals and ceremonies associated with the wild rice harvest. Besides being an important food crop, wild rice was also traded to tribes who weren’t able to collect it themselves in exchange for different goods.
Wild rice is also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Wild Rice Clans include the Gitksan tribe (whose Wild Rice Clan is called Gitangasx, Kit An Gash, or Git’anrasrh).
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