Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

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


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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 02/08/2016

- Take a trip with us to one of two covered bridges in Wisconsin, the Smith Rapids Covered Bridge in Price County.

- Plus, Wine, women, and welding may sound like a dangerous combination, but the class turned out to be a pretty successful event for the Advanced Welding Institute in Eagle River. The women had fun learning a new skill while helping out a good cause.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

WAUSAU AND STEVENS POINT - In the United States, only 10 percent of people who go through sudden cardiac arrest survive, but two local fire departments are trying to change that in northcentral Wisconsin.

The Wausau and Stevens Point Fire Departments are holding a friendly competition to see who can train the most people on how to administer CPR.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for fatally beating his father last year.

Forty-one-year-old John Edward Balistreri blamed his 77-year-old father for his mother's death 25 years earlier.

+ Read More

MADISON - New campaign finance reports show state Supreme Court hopeful JoAnne Kloppenburg is outpacing rival Joe Donald in fundraising.

Reports covering the month of January were due to the state Government Accountability Board on Monday.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Super Bowl commercials get a lot of national attention. One organization hoped to use its commercial to to bring attention to a good cause.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Last year, many people got sick even though they got the flu shot.

Health experts say that's not the case this year. They think this flu season has been a good one so far.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - It may sound like a dangerous combination, but Wine, Women, and Welding turned out to be a pretty successful event.

This was the first time the Advanced Welding Institute in Eagle River held the class.

"So far, there are a lot of smiles running around here," said AWI director Rick Riemer.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here