Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Northern Minnesota

I left the California coast on September 3rd and flew to Minnesota. This was my fourth research trip back there for my current novel project, and my third time visiting the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation. It was an honor for me to witness the sacred manoomin harvest. Manoomin means "the good berry" in Ojibwe, and it's what the Anishinaabeg call the wild rice. It was a beautiful morning on the first day of harvest. Beyond the shaded foreground in the photo below is the lake. You can't see the water for the rice.

Canoes were being driven along dirt roads to Dead Fish Lake, tied to tops of cars and sticking out of truck beds, until all were lifted and carried to water's edge.

At 10 AM, eighteen canoes were launched. As each ricing team made their way through the high rice beds, the call of Trumpeter Swans echoed across the lake as, one by one, they lifted out of the rice stalks to the sky.

I snapped a few photos of the Ojibwe wild rice harvest from this watchtower. Misty sunlight streaked through the trees and spilled over the tower, adding a sparkle to the Fond du Lac Conservation Officers' truck:

During the four days I spent time on the reservation, I stayed at the Black Bear Casino Resort. When I turned into the entrance of the hotel my first day, I spotted a group of Giant Canadian Geese in a small pond. You can see the reflection of the hotel in the photo below:

These are magnificent birds. And... they were wondering how I had gotten past the fence and over the rocks from the parking lot, especially this one, who seemed to be their leader:

But, alas, he wasn't too keen on me snooping around taking pictures, so he got everyone to hightail it to the other side of the pond.

On day five, I drove down to Southern Minnesota, and visited several small towns in Rice and Dodge Counties. I will post later to tell you about my enchanted walk through Rice Lake State Park, but for now I gotta fly.