The History of Wild Rice in Michigan: Where Have Rice Beds Gone?

The History of Wild Rice in Michigan: Where Have All the Rice Beds Gone? (INT)
Barb Barton, The Gathering Society

Prior to European occupation, vast wild rice beds were found along some of the Great Lakes shorelines along with smaller beds on inland lakes and streams. Drastic changes to the landscape resulted in the complete loss of our largest beds and a serious decline in the remaining inland beds. Wild rice was an important part of Michigan's ecological landscape yet has been absent in most current wetland restoration efforts. The tide is slowly turning today as Tribal and non-Tribal people are working together to bring back wild rice to Michigan and Indian country.

Barb Barton, The Gathering Society
Barb is an endangered species biologist, wild foods forager, singer songwriter and founder of The Gathering Society. Although she wears many hats, the common thread is connecting people with the Earth. She has worked on wild rice conservation and education since 2008 and is presently involved in several collaborative projects with various Tribes and agencies on restoration. Barb is the facilitator of The Gathering Society, a women's circle devoted to building bridges between Tribal and non-tribal communities and keeping traditional knowledge alive. She has worked for The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Natural Features Inventory and is currently the aquatic resource specialist for the Michigan Department of Transportation. She holds a BS in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University and an MS in ecology from Eastern Michigan University. She lives in Lansing with her beagle Tiny.