There are various narratives about the origin of Manòmin. Most centre around Wisakedjak or Nanabozho and his exploits in the Great Lakes. The story goes that Wisakedjak was sent out by his grandmother Nokomis to fast while on a long journey. After many days he came to a large lake with Manòmin growing in several beds. Having never seen Manòmin before, he didnt think it was good to eat. He was drawn to it because it was a beautiful plant that swayed in the breeze and as he watched it he saw seeds caught in the wind blow across the water. He built a canoe out of birchbark and gathered some to take back to his grandmother. They sowed them into a nearby lake so that it would grow the next year.
Later as he walked along a river bank he saw similar grass growing up in the water. They spoke to him and said “Wisakedjak! Are you hungry, we are tasty.” So he gathered some and ate it. “Oh you are very good. What are you called?” The grass answered him, “Manòmin.” He ate and ate and ate and then grew tired and laid down for a nap. He remembered that this was the grass he had sewn with his grandmother, that which had come from the original lake. Manòmin was thus given to the Anishinaabe by Wisakedjak who took it from the original lake of the Creator and placed it in the Great Lakes.
Sometime after Wisakedjak goes visiting some ducks and they invite him in for supper. Having nothing to feed their guest the male duck takes off flapping his wings “Kwish” "Kwish” “Kwish” and land in a nearby Manòmin bed and returns with a mouth full of Manòmin which he drops into a cooking pot. His wife sets the pot on a hot stone and it cooked and swelled and soon there was a large feast for everyone to enjoy. The following day Wisakedjak reciprocates and his wife is without food to prepare. Attempting the same process, he changes himself into a large duck and flies off to find Manòmin. On his return he looses his balance and falls but manages to make it back and goes to spit out the Manòmin he gathered into the cooking pot. Instead of Manòmin, however, he spits out sour mud. Wisakedjak had mistakenly turned himself into a mud-diver. The horrible odor caused his wife to throw it out. The duck flies out once again and gets Manòmin for them. Once it is cooked the duck refuses to eat it saying instead that “bring this to the people who are hungry, my people have lots of food.” From that day on Anishinaabe people gathered Manòmin at the end of the summer.