Source: In These Times
Manoomin (wild rice) now has legal rights. At the close of 2018, the White Earth band of Ojibwe recognized the “Rights of Manoomin” as a part of tribal regulatory authority. The resolution states, “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.” White Earth, the largest Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, relies on wild rice for sustenance, not only monetarily, but as “food for the spirits.” This new White Earth law is similar to one adopted by the 1855 Treaty Alliance, and reflects traditional laws of Anishinaabe people.
The law begins: “Manoomin, or wild rice, within all the Chippewa ceded territories, possesses inherent rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve, as well as inherent rights to restoration, recovery and preservation.”
The Rights of Manoomin include “the right to clean water and freshwater habitat, the right to a natural environment free from industrial pollution, the right to a healthy, stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts, the right to be free from patenting, the right to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms.” manoomin
The Rights of Manoomin are modeled after the Rights of Nature, recognized in courts and adopted internationally for the last decade. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to adopt Rights of Nature articles into its national constitution. Soon after, Bolivia passed the 2010 “Law of Mother Earth.” This phenomenon is not exclusive to Latin America; in 2016, the Ho Chunk Nation in Wisconsin became the first U.S. tribe to adopt the Rights of Nature, and in 2017 the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma became the second.