Archaeology Terms

Back to all terms

Wild Rice

wild rice Drawing of people harvesting wild rice Wild rice can be recovered from light fraction flotation samples.  Wild rice was a popular food with precontact peoples across northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, including the La Crosse region. Harvested by canoe, it provided an excellent source of food, especially in places where maize agriculture was not feasible.  Wild rice has been found starting in the Middle Woodland Period in the Prairie du Chien area and is common at Oneota sites in the La Crosse area, where it complements the use of maize. The grains have a distinctive groove down the middle that allows archaeologists to identify even charred fragments. (left - Oneota, La Crosse County; right – modern) (drawing by Meg Rivers)