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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 12/12/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting today about possible changes to a major Rhinelander intersection. We'll preview the meeting and bring you coverage tonight on Newswatch 12 at 10.

We talk to a fisherman and a DNR conservation warden about how safe or unsafe the Northwoods lakes are for ice fishermen.

And a historic Wabeno bed and breakfast is in a building that used to be the mansion of a lumber baron. We'll show you the place where the owners are offering tours for a good cause.

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

+ Read More

ELCHO - An Elcho couple's Christmas tradition now serves as a tradition for many others in the Northwoods.

Carl and Lissa Bloechl spent only a week setting up thanks to the stretch of warm weather early in the season.

It's common for the couple to drop everything to take an emergency EMT call which adds time to decorating.
 
They say they can't stop the display though!

"We get people from Rhinelander or Antigo or people that we know, even from outlying areas! They'll say 'Do you have the lights up yet, we want to see them!" Then we have to scramble and beat the weather," says Carl Bloechl.

The couple spends about $300 adding new items to their display every year, such as the new nativity scene Carl built.

This is the fifth year the couple has decorated their apartment complex.


+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL -
A Tomahawk man charged with 12 felonies from a string of burglaries will spend the better part of the next decade in prison.

Jon Schenk, 45, was sentenced to seven years in prison in Lincoln County Court Monday morning. Schenk chose not to say much during his hearing, but judge Robert Russell had plenty to tell him.

"Here we are again," Russell said to Schenk.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - An orthodontic office in Rhinelander wants you to add one more person to your holiday card mailing list.

Dr. Joshua Bruce of Schmidt and Bruce Orthodontics is organizing this year's "Hope and Healing" thank-you card program for wounded veterans.

Dr. Darrell Schmidt first collected the cards for injured service members around Christmas last year.

Bruce says helping veterans is something he cares deeply about.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A new state law could help northern Wisconsin open a mine in the next three to five years, if Sen. Tom Tiffany's predictions are correct.

Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wrote the bill repealing a Wisconsin law often called the "mining moratorium," and Gov. Scott Walker signed it in Rhinelander on Monday.

Walker said the new law, branded the Mining for America Act, "might as well be called the 'Keep Our Kids in Wisconsin' bill."

+ Read More

ANTIGO - Getting your family a new dog or cat for Christmas can be more troublesome than thoughtful.

Shelter animals tend to be extra sensitive when they come to a new home.

With visitors coming and going, the holiday season often creates an even more stressful environment.  

Those Christmas decorations can also frighten a new pet.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Monday night the Rhinelander City Council made a big decision it hopes will bring more success to the Northwood Golf Course.

The Council voted seven to one to end its restaurant lease with Dave O'Melia, and to let golf pro Dan Buckley go. The council will begin looking for an outside management company to handle the course.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here