Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-5-2021


food justice, food sovereignty, Anishinaabe, wild rice, decolonization


In this project I argue that the wild rice restoration projects in the Great Lakes region contribute to the reversal of direct effects of colonization brought on as a result of the Columbian Invasion of the Americas. In doing this, I ask this question: How does this unique array of projects contribute to Indigenous food sovereignty? Wild rice has been a staple of Anishinaabe diet and culture for over two thousand years, but the industrialization of the region led to the decline of wild rice populations and severely diminished the availability of wild rice to the communities that depend on it (Barton 2018). I will show that efforts to conserve, protect, and restore wild rice populations take a step toward reversing the effects of colonization and in turn form food sovereign communities to varying degrees. I demonstrate this correlation with data from primary sources published by those leading the restoration projects, and secondary sources published by academics. I use the frameworks of four different definitions of food sovereignty, with a focus on issues faced uniquely by Indigenous people. With its roots in fights to regain access to land, forming food sovereign cultures is essential because it recenters Indigenous foodways and knowledge, while challenging the current food system models we have, that are grounded in the dominionistic practices of industry (Coté 2016). The concept and acts of decolonization support efforts such as achieving food sovereignty (Nyeleni 2007). That is, to achieve food sovereignty at any degree is to decolonize to that same degree. As decolonization efforts become more prominent among broad networks of activism, especially among networks of food sovereignty, this paper offers a useful case study on the relationship between efforts to decolonize and impacts of food sovereign systems.