The Good Life (1997)

About the Film

Wild rice has been an economic mainstay for today's Indian people in Minnesota. Called manoomin in the Ojibwe language, rice was a gift from Wenaboojoo, and is endowed with spiritual meaning. While many Ojibwes sell the rice they harvest, folklorist Thomas Vennum found that nearly all would go ricing even if no money were to be made: "For cultural reasons alone, the Ojibwe people will probably never give up ricing willingly", he writes "...It is a symbol of being Ojibwe." This program focuses on one couple, the Stevens, who are in their late sixties and still hand-harvest wild rice by canoe with traditional wooden rice knockers. Rice Lake, the community they live in, is the site of White Earth's oldest and most flourishing rice camps. Background interviews illuminate both the economic, and the spiritual aspects of this ancient tradition. But, the real delight of this program is the people. Many wonderful and intimate moments show both the struggles and rewards experienced by those who continue to live off the land.

More About This Film


  • National Educational Film and Video Festival Silver Apple Award


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Deborah Wallwork, the distributor RedEye Video, or Folkstreams.