Wild Rice Festival Celebrates Harvest

Sep 11, 2014

Lac du Flambeau is holding a festival celebrating wild rice…and the historic Indian Bowl.

Wild rice harvesting in Minnesota - 1915.
Credit Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Wild Rice Festival is held every year during the rice harvesting season, which usually spans late August to early September. 

As Lac du Flambeau spokesperson Brandon Thoms explains, wild rice has been an important part of Ojibwe culture since the tribes first migrated to the area.  A prophecy had foretold that the people should settle in a place where the food grows on the water.

“And so when the Ojibwe people came to the area and discovered wild rice growing, these vast rice fields, they took heed and made it a permanent settlement.”

Wild rice grows in shallow lakes and rivers, and must be harvested in a canoe. 

The festival this Saturday includes demonstrations of harvesting techniques, as well as a Powwow dance in the afternoon.

Thoms says it will be the last dance at the Indian Bowl…which is scheduled for demolition next week. 

“It’s really significant and it’s going to be a bittersweet day in Lac du Flambeau.  This will be the last dance at the Indian Bowl Powwow facility…so there’s a lot of history that goes with the Indian bowl, and it just has a real significance in our community.”

The tribe is working to rebuild the structure as the new Waaswaaganing (wass-wah-gon-eeng) Indian Bowl Living Arts and Cultural Center.