Gathering Wild Rice, 1849-1855

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This is the first known picture by a non-Native artist of people harvesting Minnesota’s proudest hotdish ingredient. The birchbark canoe indicates these women are probably Anishinaabe (Ojibwe); Dakota people typically carved canoes from tree trunks. One woman steadies the canoe while the others bend stalks over the gunwale and gently release the seeds with paddles. The wild grain is then gathered, dried, and hulled. Ohiyesa (also called Charles Eastman), a grandson of Seth Eastman and the Dakota woman Wakaninajinwin, described the next step: “The women then pour it upon a robe and begin to shake it so that the chaff will be separated by the wind.”

This watercolor, one of 35 works on paper by Eastman in Mia’s collection, was the basis for an illustration in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s massive "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851-57).

Gathering Wild Rice
Artist Life
Accession Number
James J. Hill (St. Paul, 1838-1916); his estate; James Jerome Hill Reference Library St. Paul (by 1921-1994; sold October, to MacMillan); W. Duncan MacMillan, Wayzata (1994-d. 2006); the W. Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation (2006-2014; given to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians 27
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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