Loading

54°F

56°F

59°F

56°F

57°F

59°F

62°F

56°F

53°F

62°F

59°F

60°F
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

Play Video

WABENO - People went out to Wabeno this weekend for its first ever Art and Music Fest. Musicians performed in the band shell while local artists spread out to show their products.

There were food and drinks as well as workshops for people to learn more about art.

"This year we've had about 20 musicians performing on three stages," said Friends of Wabeno Chairperson Mary Beck. "And we've had maybe ten artists doing demonstrations, showing people what they can do and what they can buy."

The rain Sunday didn't stop people from having a good time. Volunteers hope to make this an annual event.

+ Read More

Play Video

BOULDER JUNCTION - It's no secret to anglers that the Northwoods makes for some great fishing.

That's why fishing club coach Jim Bondi brought a group of 30 kids and chaperones up to Boulder Junction for the week.

+ Read More

Play Video

ARBOR VITAE - The Arbor Vitae Fire Department hosted its 39th Fireman's Picnic and Summerfest this weekend.

Thousands of people came out to benefit the fire department while having a good time. The fire department held the crowd favorite lawnmower races again this year.

They also had a volleyball tournament and games for kids. The fire chief says all the proceeds help the department pay for equipment.

"When we purchased our new fire truck, the fire department funded a good portion of the money, the fundraiser money, to help keep the tax dollars down so the tax payers didn't have to foot the whole bill for the truck," said Arbor Vitae Fire Department Chief Mike Van Meter. "And we also use it to buy turnout gear throughout the year, new air packs. Anything we can do to keep it off the tax roll."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - County workers aren't the only ones who like to find issues and fix them on the roads. So does Delmore Consulting owner, Jeff Delmore.

Delmore is hired by county boards to evaluate roads, signs and culverts. He find the signs, the ranks them, helping the county prioritize what work they need to do.

"I check each sign, I mark it, GPS location and then I check the reflectivity of the sign, just the overall condition of it," said Delmore.

It usually takes three to four weeks to gather all the information for each town. Delmore's currently in the Northwoods working for towns in Vilas County.

+ Read More

Play Video

ST. GERMAIN - The last day of Pig in the Pines wrapped up Saturday. People were able to watch the rib eating contest in the afternoon.

Newswatch 12 got to help judge ribs from this year's four rib vendors. One of the big events happened on the main stage Saturday evening.

"We have entertainment all day long," said St. Germain Chamber President Bruce Weber. "We have the Wise Guys on our main stage. We have Laura Ernst on the aerial platform here. She also does juggling. On our major stage, we have One Ping Only, and we also have Molly Hatchet, our lead act tonight."

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Trees for Tomorrow held their Forest Fest in Eagle River Saturday. The event welcomes many people and companies that make a living from trees.

The UW-Stevens Point Timbersports team came out to Forest Fest to show off their skills.

+ Read More

Play Video

WISCONSIN - Anyone who loves hunting and fishing will need to apply for a license. The deadline for some hunting and fishing licenses is August 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Hunters, trappers and spearers can go on the DNR website to apply.

"This is the time of year where not a lot of people are thinking about hunting, but that August 1 date is that date for applying for a bobcat, fisher or otter tag, sharp-tail grouse, or sturgeon spearing or fall turkey," said DNR Warden Supervisor David Walz.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here