Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Sokaogon Shares in Wild Rice Reseeding Project

By Richard D. Ackley, Jr.
Sunny skies and cold temperatures in the mid-20s welcomed a group of 20 individuals who gathered at Duck Creek boat landing in Howard, near Green Bay, on Tuesday, November 5th. Their mission was to take part in a unique reseeding of waterways with wild rice brought from Mole Lake. Four boats were used to carry wild rice seeds and spread them across three waterways, focusing on bringing back ancient wild rice beds in and around a three-acre area of the Cat Island causeway in Peter’s Marsh and the Duck Creek side channel.
Early Wisconsin explorers described the encounter of abundant wild rice beds, noting it slowed their travel efforts on many waterways as they ventured across the landscape. After Wisconsin gained statehood in 1848, declines in historic wild rice beds have occurred statewide due to several factors including dams, pollution, large boat wakes, and invasive plant species.
A renewed interest within the wild rice community leading to large-scale restoration efforts to reintroduce wild rice in Wisconsin’s landscape is underway. Wild rice offers a source of nutrition to a variety of mammals and bird species, and provides roosting and loafing areas to a host of migrating birds and serves as an essential brood cover for their young.
Members of our community were invited to take part in this historic project, and this is the first time that wild rice from Mole Lake has been used to reseed sections of the historic Duck Creek Channel and Peter’s Marsh, which connects to Lake Michigan. Sokaogon Chippewa representatives included Pete McGeshick, III, Richard Ackley, Jr., Carson Ackley, Leeland VanZile and Nathan Podany.
Other participants included Trina Soyk, Gary Van Vreede and Tony Reith from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Joshua Martinez, Brianna Kupsky, Cheryl Bougie and Taylor Finger from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Kevin Fermanich, Brandon Falish, Jacob Pantzlaff, Jacob Depas, Pat Riordan (a guest), Jeff Benzow (videographer) and Amy Carrozzino-Lyon from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB); and Brian Glenzinski from Ducks Unlimited.
Brian Glenzinski, a Regional Biologist for Ducks Unlimited, stated, “I just wanted to say thanks again for coming down today and spending time with us. Please pass on my sincere appreciation to all who helped. I must say that while I have been doing this for several years now, today was very special! Pete McGeshick’s profound words to kick things off and the time we spent in the boat together had everything to do with that. I look forward to a long partnership and many more days on the marsh together.”

Amy Carrozzino-Lyon, Green Bay Restoration Project Coordinator and Research Specialist with the UWGB Department Natural & Applied Sciences, said, “The wild rice restoration effort in Green Bay wetlands is really a story about partnerships. The fall wild rice seeding gives us a chance to work together to bring a native species back to our wetlands, support the cultural and traditional value of wild rice, and provide excellent habitat for fish and wildlife. We appreciate the staff and volunteers who made the seeding effort a reality and look forward to monitoring the sites during the next growing season.”

Amy explained that 2,000 pounds of wild rice were seeded at seven wetlands on the Green Bay west shore. Overall, approximately 40 volunteers participated in seeding over the course of the week. “This year we have local two student groups participating. Funding to support the seeding and monitoring project is provided by Sustain Our Great Lakes, Fox River Natural Resource Trustee Council and the U.S. US Fish & Wildlife Service Coastal Program.”

Pete shared, “Manoomin is our culture and the planting of every new or restored rice bed marks the return of who we are as a people! The planting of seed from Rice Lake on the Sokaogon Chippewa Reservation to the bay of Green Bay adds another piece to my Anishinaabe heart, back to the place where it was for generations before.”