Leech Lake Tribal College students and the Leech Lake Division of Resource Management (LLDRM) will collaborate on a research project called Reseeding Manoomin for the Next Seven Generations. Manoomin faces many threats from climate change, pollution, and invasive species. Climate change and pollution are global issues that require collective action, but addressing the threat of invasive species can be tackled locally. This project focuses on developing a process that can be adopted by communities to help protect manoomin, or wild rice, from invasive species.

Graph showing a decrease in abundance of Wild Rice in the 1854 treaty territory from 1998-2017. Source: Tribal Task Force on Wild Rice

The reseeding manoomin research project will begin with Tribal college students becoming dive-certified.  Tribal College students will coordinate with the LLDRM to map out invasive species near the Headquarters Bay rice bed in 2024, and a vegetation survey will be created. The following year, invasive species will be removed using the diver-assisted suction harvest system, and manoomin will be reseeded in 2025. The removed invasive species will be composted in an area nearby. Another vegetation survey and analysis will follow this in 2026 to evaluate the recovery of manoomin where invasive species were previously located and will be compared to control plots. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s crop research grant will fund this three-year research project, and Honor the Earth and other sources will disseminate its results.

This research project will gather comprehensive data on the amount and type of invasive species found near the Headquarters Bay rice bed. This data will help the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and others understand the impact of aquatic invasive species on wild rice. Tribal college students and LLDRM will collaborate to develop a process for removing aquatic invasive species and reseeding manoomin while also assessing the effectiveness of reseeding manoomin after aquatic invasive species removal. This research project will increase public awareness about the effects of aquatic invasive species on wild rice and develop an invasive species removal and manoomin reseeding protocol that other tribal nations can follow. By working together, we can help ensure the survival of this important cultural and ecological resource for generations to come.

Map of Leech Lake District 2 Wild Rice Beds in 2024 colored in yellow. Source: Division of Resource Management