WILD RICE WATERS: Recovering Practice in the St. Louis River Estuary

by Melody Stein (MLA '19) and Emily Hicks (MLA '19) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize

The homeland of the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe people in the St. Louis River Estuary was once blanketed with wild rice (Zizania palustris). Wild rice is a culturally and spiritually important wild grain that has been hand-harvested from the lakes and rivers of The Great Lakes Region for thousands of years. Today, wild rice harvest remains a treaty protected right for all Ojibwe people in Minnesota. As the estuary lost its wild rice to land dispossession, resource extraction, and industrialization, the people of Duluth have also lost their estuary.

We propose recovering the St. Louis River Estuary through the practice of wild rice harvest. This thesis takes the necessity of access to the lands and waters where wild rice grows as a framework for design and the first step toward recalibrating shattered relationships between people and land.

Rosetta S. Elkin, Faculty Advisor, GSD
John Koepke, External Advisor, UMN
With thanks to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa