Team Zaaga’igan’s research projects were developed in a partnership between Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the University of Minnesota, and Fond du Lac Resource (FDL) Management, based on the community need to understand the past, present, and future conditions of wild rice (manoomin). Interns in this project will conduct research using core samples and modern measurements from wild rice lakes. We use an interdisciplinary approach that includes geophysical profiling, remote sensing and visualization, and historical research, to understand past conditions for wild rice growth, current challenges for restoring and enhancing its habitat, and effective management for future production. These efforts complement FDL Resource Management’s long term lake sampling and monitoring program. Students will conduct research in the field and laboratory on the Fond du Lac (Nagajiiwanaang) Reservation in northern Minnesota, as well as at the facilities of LacCore on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Examples of research projects include: identifying plant remains to reconstruct ecological communities of the past; extracting phytoliths to learn where wild rice has grown and how long it has been in these lakes; analysis of fossil diatoms to understand past habitats and lake depth; measurement of phosphorus and other elements and nutrients in the sediments; GIS analysis and mapping of core locations and characteristics; collecting plants from the lake area and curation of samples at the FDLTCC herbarium; water quality monitoring; collecting additional core samples; and more.


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