Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Students Learn Ancient Art of Making Maple SugarSubmitted: 05/10/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

Students Learn Ancient Art of Making Maple Sugar
Photos By Kailey Burton

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Centuries ago, the Native Ojibwe tribes sometimes had to rely on maple trees to survive the winter. Making sugar is an ancient art passed down through the generations. Learning this skill can teach more than you might think.

"Patience is something that's in short demand with our young people today. Everything is done as fast as we can get it done... We have 4G phones, everything is as fast as we can do it. But our culture teaches us to be patient," said Wayne Valliere, a language and culture instructor at Lac du Flambeau School.

That lesson is echoed in the slow and steady drip of the sap into a bucket. Slowly but surely the sap runs from the trees. It takes patience as much as knowledge to turn that sap into sugar. Middle school students in the culture program at Lac du Flambeau's school are learning the basics of an old tradition.

"Me and Max are the two youngest ones in Flambeau that know how to make maple sugar," said 7th grader Dallas Hart, "It's something I always wanted to try…. I'd like to do it every year so I can have some maple sugar, and give some to the elders."

"This is a piece of our history," said a language and culture instructor Greg Johnson, "By giving this gift back to our youth, it's not only showing Ojibwe sustainability, but we're also teaching them about the environment,"

"There's also science and mathematics," adds Valliere, "We incorporate that into our culture…That's how our culture stays alive, it's living... It's not put on a CD-ROM and left on some dusty shelf in some library. Our culture is alive and well in Waswagoning, and it lives in our young people as you can see."

In the middle of the sweet steam from the maple sap, are lessons on the delicate balance of nature. Maple sugar once kept the Ojibwe alive in the leanest time of year. Like the environment, making sugar requires careful attention.

"If we burn it, it'll taste like burnt sugar and we won't want that," says Max, "Cause if we burn it there's no going back."

"We are planting the seed of positive identity in our young people," says Valliere, "They're learning their language, they're learning their history, they're learning what their ancestors did 500 years ago, as well as 100 years ago, as well as 50 years ago."

Today the Anishinaabe process for making sugar has evolved with the times. A propane tank brings the thickened sap to a solid in under an hour. Still this modern convenience doesn't spare them much of the hard work along the way.

"They hauled a lot of firewood out of the woods, they worked very hard... They were quite tired at the end of the day. So was I and so was Greg! And we kept going. Because the sugar waits for no one. It's on grandmother earth's terms."

"I did not know how the processes went before I started sugaring…. and now that I do, I can probably do it by myself," said Max.

"We know that the footprint that we're leaving as educators is a good one," says Valliere, "So that our ancestors that left that by the road for us, they're happy. They're happy today because the footprint we're leaving is a good one."


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

WOODRUFF - Hunters can decide whether to keep their turkey or donate it to families in need.

The DNR started a turkey donation program last year with hopes of expanding it this spring.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - When you grab a bowl out of your cupboard, it probably came from a big box store.

You won't find those at The Warehouse Art Center in Eagle River.

These are hand-thrown bowls made right in the ceramic studio.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department. 

Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - From here on out, Mosinee's Kevin Osterbrink will plow snow with a Stormy Kromer hat on his head--and a Stormy Kromer pattern on his plow.

Osterbrink entered his wife, Kayla Cisler-Osterbrink, in a prize drawing from Stormy Kromer and BOSS Snowplow. Her entry won, and BOSS delivered the red plaid patterned snowplow on Friday in Mosinee.

"I was tapping maple trees, and my wife showed up and said I had some homework to do because she won the plow," Osterbrink said, remembering how he found out they won.

"The first thing I told her was, 'That's the last thing I need, more work to do.' She said, 'Well, I think you want to do this, because you just won the Stormy Kromer plow," Osterbrink said.

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - Police released the name of man found dead at a Marathon City motel last week. 

28-year-old Brian Kienast was reported missing from Adams County on November 22, 2017.

According to the press release, Kienast had been in Marathon City during the week of Thanksgiving. 

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office are asking people for information about Kienast. 

If anyone saw or had contact with Kienast since last November please contact the sheriff's office. 

You can submit a tip online or call 877-409-8777

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments.
"We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson.
Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's.
"We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson. 

"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent.
The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants.
"For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent.
"We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth.
Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.

+ Read More

LINCOLN COUNTY - Police in Lincoln County caught a woman driving the wrong way on Highway 51 near Irma.

People calling on cell phones reported the wrong way driver around 11:00 p.m. Saturday.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here