"MINNEAPOLIS – Wild rice is sacred to the Ojibwe of Minnesota, but that may not be enough to protect it from the promise of jobs that a new copper-nickel mining industry would bring to the state.
Lawmakers and business interests are working to loosen Minnesota's water quality standards to make it easier to start copper mining in the northeastern part of the state, but it could come at an environmental price. The fight is being closely watched by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who fear that weaker standards could wipe out important natural stands of wild rice that provide food and medicine.
"It is sacred. It is a gift from the Creator. It is central to Ojibwe cultural identity. The cultural significance can't be overstated," said Nancy Schuldt, the band's water projects coordinator."
Steve Karnowski reports for the Associated Press April 15, 2011.