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Sunday June 25th 2017

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White Earth Wild Rice Venture to France and Beyond Began With Local Artist’s Vision

Minnesota Native American foods to be promoted to Gourmet Entrepeneurs in France. Left to right, Norma Renville-White Earth/Sisseton-Wahpeton, Diane Gorney-White Earth, Carl Fransen-White Earth, Clyde Bellecourt-White Earth, American Indian Movement Interpretive Center Board Members who are launching International marketing of White Earth Wild Rice and walleye and buffalo meat from other Minnesota Tribes at a very large Culinary and Arts Festival at Tours, France May 4 thru 10th. Norma Renville and Diane Gorney are holding 1 pound packages of the Organically certified, Gluten Free REAL Wild Rice harvested by hand at White Earth.

BY HARVEY WINJE

Diane Gorney grew up in Minneapolis, graduated from Central High School, attended college, became an art teacher, and in a later career, did human relations work for the State of Minnesota. While on a trip in the 1990’s, seeing American Indian wild rice in a grocery store in France prompted her to ask the vendor the origin of the rice.  The answer being “from Indonesia” and a similarly shocking answer to a question about American Indian jewelry “from Sri Lanka” caused Diane to wonder why they couldn’t be buying authentic American Indian products from Native Americans in Minnesota. 

Diane’s curiosity and fortitude didn’t include knowledge of marketing and international trade but that counsel she was able to get from Mike O’Dell, a neighbor, who also speaks French.  She then introduced the marketing possibility and Mike to Clyde Bellecourt, who, along with other Board Members and Staff of the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center (AIM IC), worked on the initiative of marketing White Earth wild rice.

From May 4th to May 10th, Clyde Bellecourt, Norma Renville, Eric Byrd, Jack Swanson, Diane Gorney of the AIM IC along with Carl Fransen (White Earth Urban Office and AIM IC), Mike O’Dell (AIM IC), Sean Sherman (The Sioux Chef), and Howasta Means (Gatherings Cafe) will be at Foire de Tours, one of the largest Culinary and Arts Festivals in France, delighting over 300,000 visitors with White Earth wild rice and walleye and buffalo from other Minnesota Tribes.

They will introduce wild rice with samples and recipes in French at Foire de Tours and also at the International Cite’ of Gastronomy in Tours on May 11th. 

World champion Midnight Express Drummers and Native Pride Dancers will also participate in the Foire de Tours. Two tipis will be built for display with paintings done by Wolf Bellecourt.

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