American Indian Education Program

Monthly Newsletter - March 2021

Boozhoo District 196 Teachers!

This month's Indian Education Newsletter will focus on The Sugar Bush


Background Photo of The Tree of Life painting by Anishinaabe artist: Jason Jacko

A sugar bush is a place in the woods where many sugar maple trees grow and people go year after year to make syrup and sugar.

Iskigamizigan - The Sugar Bush

April is called Iskigamizige-Giizis in Anishinaabemowin — the maple sugar moon. It is the only time of year when the sap of sugar maple trees will run. Depending on the weather, the sap can start to flow in Onaabani-Giizis, Hard Crust on the Snow Moon, or March.


Maple sap has been a traditional food source for the Anishinaabe for generations — since before colonists arrived with iron kettles to help with the boiling process. While the ziinzibaakwadwaaboo, sugar water, that comes from the tree is sweet as soon as it comes out and tempting to drink on the spot, Anishinaabe ancestors knew that the sweetness would be better preserved and stored for use later during the year.


They taught themselves to boil ziinzibaakwadwaaboo until it became thick, and then thicker still. Once thick enough, the nearly solid sugar would be poured into a wooden trough carved from the trunk of a tree and ground by hand into granules. The resulting sugar would be packed into cakes or cones, used as food seasoning, or even added to water for sweet tea. (From the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe)

FOUR STAGES OF MAKING MAPLE SUGAR AND CANDY

1. The maple tree is tapped using a sumac peg (traditionally) or a metal tap.


2. The sap is collected in a makuk (Birchbark Basket) or plastic sacks or metal buckets are used. Or even recycled milk cartons or coffee cans.


3. The sap is then transferred to a large kettle where it is boiled to remove most of the water.


4. Finally, the thick maple paste is broken up to create sugar.


From North St. Paul American Indian Education Program



When do we collect maple sap? .... February - April (depending on weather), but typically SPRING.


How many gallons of sap make a gallon of syrup? .... It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Because so much sap is needed to boil down into syrup, the boiling process happens right at the Sugar Bush camp - otherwise it would be too much to haul back home to process.


Sugar camp usually lasts from two to five weeks, depending on the weather.

(from Iskigamizigan/GLIFWC)

Ojibwemowin

Ojibwemowin:

Birchbark ............................................. Wiigwaas

A sap bucket of folded birch bark...... Biskitenaagan

Birchbark Basket ................................ Makuk

A tap, a spile, a spigot ........................ Negwaakwaan

S/he makes a birchbark sap bucket . Biskitenaaganike

Maple Sap/Sugar Water................ ......Ziinzibaakwadwaaboo

Maple Sugar ........................................ Ziinzibaakwad


Additional Resources:

From "Ojibwe Word of the Day" with James Vukelich (Facebook)

The Ojibwe People's Dictionary: https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/

Iskigamizigewin: Language lesson