11 Wild Rice: The Food that Grows on Water Wild rice is a significant treaty resource. As the “food that grows on water,” it is an integral part of Ojibwe migration prophecies. It is a significant food staple and a valuable product in national and international markets. Wild rice plays an important role in many ceremonies and feasts. Tribaltreatyprogramsareleadersinwildricemanagement efforts, undertaking assessment, monitoring, research, and restoration activities. Their wild rice partnerships extend well beyond usual federal and state agency counterparts. They include counties, local lake associations, and conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited. Wild rice ripens in the fall. Tribal Rice Chiefs determine when harvest may proceed. Tribal regulations require harvesters to use smooth wooden ricing sticks. Ricers gently release the grain without damaging the plant. This method, passed down through generations of Rice Chiefs, has been adopted by the State of Wisconsin and is mirrored in its wild rice regulations. Preserving existing rice stands and establishing new ones is an important goal. Ceded territory wild rice abundance today is far below historic levels. Since 1990, tribal treaty programs have restored more than 1,200 acres of rice in Wisconsin alone, increasing ceded territory abundance by about 25 percent.