Identity Through Ricing

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Nick Vander Puy:
Reggie Cadotte, you’re at a gathering for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. And you’re making some knockers. Looks like you got some cedar. Tell us about what you’re doing.

Reggie:
I’m working for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission under an Administration for Native Americans grant. This is a two year grant with three main objectives. One of those objectives is to do an inventory of the rice waters in the ceded territory that the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission monitors, and another part of that grant is to teach kids how to make their own tools, including the rice sticks, the push-poles, and stuff like that, and what types of resources are in the forest so that they can go and harvest their own tools to make the wild rice. The third part of my grant is to get an inventory of where that rice used to be and where we can focus our reseeding efforts. It’s been a lot of fun. Last week I had two workshops: one was in Lac Courte Oreilles and one in Lac Vieux Desert, teaching these kids how to be safe in the canoe, how to make these sticks, and in the fall we’re going to teach them how to go and harvest and process that wild rice. It’s been a lot of fun.

Nick Vander Puy:
Well, show us how to make a stick, we were just talking about that this morning.

Reggie:
Well, that’s what we have here. I started, I went and got some cedar from the lumberyard. I was told to do that. We had some trouble using that stuff—it was too dry and had some knots. So talking to some elders, they told me to get some cedar 4 x 4s. There’s a 4 x 4 over there, so we split that. And I also talked to Joe Chosa in Lac du Flambeau, and he said to get some good cedar out of the woods, and so we’re going to try to do that, and when I did that it was a lot easier to work with. And so we’re teaching the kids how to split that cedar and how to make their sticks. Today we’re using block planes here. You can get these from Ace Hardware or True Value, sometimes your lumberyard. And it just slightly shaves it and makes these curly q’s we have here. We use everything, every part of that, and actually today, at this event here, at the Big Top Chautauqua, they’re going to use some of the cedar to start a fire to heat the drums. So, there’s a lot of stuff you can use with the cedar.

Nick Vander Puy:
So there’s fewer and fewer young people hunting and fishing that’s across the board in dominant society and Indian country. So what you’re trying to do is interest young people in harvesting again?

Reggie:
Yes, that’s exactly correct. There’s all these electronics and games and video stuff that’s out there—I like playing as well—but when I was younger I was always told to get outside or I’d get put to work. And there’s a lot of work to do out in the woods as well. So, that’s kind of my upbringing from my mom and dad down there at Lac Courte Oreilles. Odawas, hopefully they’ll be showing up here soon. So that’s the main focus of our grant, is to get kids out into the woods, get them out harvesting that wild rice like they used to do and get them off those games as much as possible. Now games are fun, but you got to take everything in moderation, is what I’ve been told many times in my life.

Nick Vander Puy:
This is Nick Vander Puy and Reggie Cadotte, for Indian Country TV.

Video courtesy of Indian Country TV, 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1SwmHTqItM

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