Sticks like these harvest wild rice

Object of the Month: 08/2007

What is it?:

Ricing Sticks


Origin:

Fon du Lac Reservation, Cloquet, Minnesota


Age: 1992
Made by:

Charlie Nahganub, Ojibwe


What is it made of?:

Cedar


Accession #: SMM A93:4:1A&B

Ricing sticks
Ricing sticks

Made of lightweight, buoyant cedar, ricing sticks are used specifically for harvesting wild rice on lakes and rivers. They’re sometimes called “knockers,” because people use them to knock grains off from wild rice plants. The tapered wooden rods are tailor-made for individuals, to fit their hand size and arm length.

Ojibwe people in Minnesota and Wisconsin use wild rice as a staple food, and prepare it in various ways. They cook it, parch it and pop it, using it as a cereal or combined with meat for main dishes.

The Science Museum of Minnesota commissioned Charlie Nahganub from the Fon du Lac Reservation in Minnesota to make these ricing sticks for us in 1992.

Rice harvesting
Ojibwe man and woman harvesting wild rice, northern Minnesota, 1912-1929
Photograph, Kenneth M. Wright, American (1895-1964)