In December 2018, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe (part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) and the 1855 Treaty Authority adopted laws recognizing the “Rights of Manoomin” (wild rice), establishing on and off reservation protection of wild rice as well as the fresh water resources and habitats in which it thrives. The Rights of Manoomin law is the first law to recognize the legal rights of a plant species. The law begins: “Manoomin, or wild rice, within all the Chippewa ceded territories, possesses inherent rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve, as well as inherent rights to restoration, recovery and preservation.” The Rights of Manoomin include:
the right to clean water and freshwater habitat
the right to a natural environment free from industrial pollution
the right to a healthy, stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts
the right to be free from patenting
the right to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms
White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the 1855 Treaty Authority worked with CELDF and its International Center for the Rights of Nature to develop the draft law.
In 2021, manoomin and the White Earth Band filed the case Manoomin, et.al., v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, et.al. in the White Earth Tribal Court to enforce the rights of wild rice – the first rights of nature enforcement case to be brought in a tribal court.