Rights of wild rice defended in new tribal law suit against the DNR

The White Earth Nation is suing the state DNR in tribal court on behalf of wild rice.

According to the complaint, the case argues that wild rice, a sacred primary food for the Ojibwe people, has rights.

These rights were established in White Earth tribal law in 2018.

Mahnomen, or wild rice, is culturally significant, as the Ojibwe people migrated to this portion of the country to seek out the place where food grows on the water.

The case further indicates that the DNR’s June permit, allowing 5 billion gallons of dewatering, violates those rights.

Plaintiffs in the case say the legal challenge is the “first case brought in a tribal court to enforce the rights of nature.”

The case says water levels in the Mississippi are too low to feed tributaries where the crop grows, and the dewatering process exacerbated the situation.

It is unclear whether any tribal court ruling would be binding to the state of Minnesota, but it would be on the White Earth Nation.

Line 3 is nearly 80 percent complete and is expected to resume the original capacity of Line 3 at 760,000 barrels of crude oil transported a day to a refinery in Superior, Wisc.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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