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Journal Articles Environmental Law Review Year : 2020

Wild rice protectors: An Ojibwe odyssey


On the eve of New Year 2019, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota adopted a Tribal law recognising the intrinsic rights of wild rice. The article intends to explore the many struggles that this Native American community had to endure in the defence of their way of life and of the resources and territories on which they rely. The three `fights' that punctuated this complex ecological controversy will consequently be analysed, looking firstly at Ojibwe’s crusade for access to wild rice based on court cases over off-reservation usufructuary rights from the early 1970s to 1999, before exploring the Tribe’s effort to challenge appropriation of wild rice in the first decade of the 21st century, in the context of scientific and private attempts at patenting and genetically modifying the plant. The final section discusses the innovative legal strategies recently deployed by Ojibwe to retain control over wild rice against the backdrop of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline and the considerable environmental risks that such project represents. Eventually, this investigation provides an eloquent illustration of the role that legal creativity can play in the defence of indigenous communities’ threatened ecologies.



Dates and versions

hal-03260279 , version 1 (14-06-2021)



Aurélien Bouayad. Wild rice protectors: An Ojibwe odyssey. Environmental Law Review, 2020, 22 (1), pp.25 - 42. ⟨10.1177/1461452920912909⟩. ⟨hal-03260279⟩
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