Loading

36°F

40°F

42°F

39°F

37°F

34°F

42°F

45°F

37°F

33°F

45°F

42°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

WOODRUFF - A few weeks ago, a fire destroyed the Lakeland Senior Center in Woodruff.

We still don't know how the fire started. We do know, however, that the center probably won't receive insurance money to help pay for the rebuilding process, because, at the time of the fire, the center didn't have insurance.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - You can get out on the water and help a good cause this weekend. Wildwood Outdoor Adventures will sponsor Paddle Fest on Saturday, May 23

+ Read More

WAUSAU - Police in Wausau want to find the man who held up a convenience store overnight.

About 1:30 this morning, The Store gas station on Stewart Avenue was robbed by a man  who had a t-shirt wrapped around his face to hide his identity.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - One Northwoods community hopes to start a new tradition on Memorial Day weekend.

Eagle River will host its first ever Memorial Day Arts and Crafts Show on Saturday on Wall Street. The event will coincide with the annual sidewalk sale.

+ Read More

BOULDER JUNCTION - As the weather gets warmer and fishing season comes into full swing, many people will head out on the water. If you're looking for a little help to snare that big catch, the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce is offering its first free fishing seminar Saturday night.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - One popular Northwoods tourist destination wants to make it easier for visitors to find information about all the attractions the community offers.

The Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center unveiled a new website design recently.

Chamber leaders wanted to make it more convenient for visitors who are already in the area to find something to do.

+ Read More

WAUSAU - The case against a Weston man who's accused of putting a child's face in extremely hot water will move forward. Twenty-two-year-old Christopher Kolden faces a felony for child abuse.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here