Loading

22°F

15°F

18°F

22°F

19°F

22°F

21°F

22°F

18°F

21°F

22°F
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: 03/02/2015

- Sheriff's Offices here in the Northwoods sometimes struggle to find qualified applicants to become sheriff's deputies. And they're not alone. It's a growing trend across the country. Find out why fewer people are getting into law enforcement and why fewer are qualified, tonight.

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

+ Read More

MADISON - Nearly 100 private and religious schools have applied to be a part of Wisconsin's voucher program next fall.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - A building that has been a part of the Rhinelander Community for almost 100 years was torn down Monday.

+ Read More

NORTHWOODS - Sheriff's Offices in the Northwoods sometimes struggle to find qualified applicants to become sheriff's deputies, and they're not alone. It's a growing trend across the country.

"We want to attract the best deputy sheriff applicants that we can, and that's what we strive for," said Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath.

He says people aren't half as interested as they used to be in working in law enforcement.

+ Read More
3 injured in crashSubmitted: 03/02/2015

MINOCQUA - A Park Falls man will likely face charges for a crash that left three people injured.

It happened Sunday night near the intersection of Blue Lake Road and Strasburg Road in Minocqua.

+ Read More

- His family was one of the pioneer families in Eagle River. That's how he came to appreciate all that the forest has to give.

"They moved out to the Nicolet National Forest, and they lived there for eight years without water or electricity, squatting on government land," Owner of KMS Ken Schels said. "You know, my mom used to go to Anvil Lake and chop a hole in the ice to get the water for themselves, as well as for the animals."

+ Read More

MADISON - Round two of the right-to-work fight is set to begin at the Wisconsin Capitol.

The state Assembly labor committee is set to hold a 10-hour hearing Monday about the right-to-work bill that rapidly passed in the Senate last week. Assembly Republicans planned to start the day with a news conference and then convene the hearing.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here