Author and outdoorsman Steven Rinella embarks on an exciting global adventure as he explores the world's diverse cultures. Steven will reveal his deep conviction that within all of us, an instinctual hunter/gatherer is waiting to come out. In each breathtaking episode, Steven uses his pioneer spirit, resourceful mentality and outdoor skills to explore the subcultures that cherish and maintain their hunting, fishing and gathering traditions.
Runtime: 60 minutes
The Wild Within - Wild rice - Netflix
Wild rice (Ojibwe: Manoomin, Sanskrit: 'नीवार', IAST: nīvāra; also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) are four species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain that can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in North America, India and China. While now a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable. Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice (Oryza sativa), whose wild progenitors are O. rufipogon and O. nivara, although they are close cousins, sharing the tribe Oryzeae. Wild-rice grains have a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain that has a slightly vegetal taste. The plants grow in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife, as well as by humans.
The Wild Within - Archaeology of Minnesota wild rice - Netflix
Anthropologists since the early 1900s have focused on wild rice as a food source, often with an emphasis on the harvesting of the aquatic plant in the Lake Superior region by the Anishinaabe people, also known as the Chippewa, Ojibwa and Ojibwe (Densmore 1929: 128). The Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology published “The Wild Rice Gatherers in the Upper Great Lakes: A Study in American Primitive Economics” by Albert Ernest Jenks in 1900. In addition to his fieldwork interviewing members of various tribal communities, Jenks examined the accounts of explorers, fur traders and government agents from the early 1600s to the late 1800s to detail an “aboriginal economic activity which is absolutely unique, and in which no article is employed not of aboriginal conception and workmanship” (Jenks 1900: 1019). His study further notes wild rice’s importance in the fur-trading era because the region would have been nearly inaccessible if not for the availability of wild rice and the ability to store it for long periods of time (Jenks 1900: 1019). Wild rice’s social and economic importance has continued into present times for the Anishinaabe and other north woods tribal members despite the availability of more easily obtainable food sources (Vennum 1988: 58–80). This continued use of wild rice from ancient to modern times has provided opportunities to examine the plant’s processing by various cultures through the archaeological record they left behind during their occupation of seasonal ricing camps. Early ethnographic reports, tribal accounts and historical writings also inform archaeological research in the human use of wild rice. For example, geographer and ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft in the mid-1800s wrote about depressions in the ground on the shore of a lake with wild rice growing in the water. He wrote that wild rice processors placed animal hides in the holes, filled them with rice and stomped on the rice to thresh it (Jenks 1900: 1067). These jigging pits are part of the husking needed to process wild rice, and archaeologists see these holes in the soil stratigraphy in archaeological excavations today. Such historical records from the post-contact period in the Lake Superior region focus on Anishinaabe harvesting and processing techniques. Archaeological investigations of wild rice processing from the American era, before and after the creation of federal Indian reservations, also provide information on the loss of traditional harvesting areas, as 1800s fur trader and Indian interpreter Benjamin G. Armstrong wrote about outsiders “who claimed to have acquired title to all the swamps and overflowed lakes on the reservations, depriving the Indians of their rice fields, cranberry marshes and hay meadows” (Armstrong 1892: 81). Despite the close association of the Anishinaabe and wild rice today, indigenous use of this food for subsistence also predates their arrival in the Lake Superior region. The Anishinaabe today were part of a larger Algonquian group who left eastern North America on a centuries-long journey to the west along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. The Anishinaabe migration story details a vision to follow a giant clam shell in the sky to a place where the food grows on the water. This journey ended between the late 1400s and early 1600s in the Lake Superior wild rice country when they encountered the plant (Warren 1885: 76–95).
The Wild Within - References - Netflix