Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

How the Mohawks Invented Maple Syrup


March 18, 2022

A forest of sugar maple and yellow birch trees. Photo: Cephas

The Maple Tree (Wahta in Mohawk) is recognized by the Iroquois people as the representative of all trees.

When the people gather together for social, ceremonial or political sessions the Thanksgiving Address is recited in which different elements of creation are spoken to and asked to carry the gratitude of the people to their relatives. It begins with Mother Earth followed by the waters, insects, fish, food plants, medicine plants, trees, animals, birds, winds, rain, thunder, moon, sun, stars, teachers and spiritual leaders and ending with the creator-a feminine power.

Of particular importance are the maple trees as they are the first of the deciduous plants to awaken from their long winter's sleep and alert the others that spring is on its way. When the Iroquois were new to this area, many generations ago, they were weakened by the long, cold months both in body and spirit. The Creator noticed this and was concerned so the maple was asked to give its life blood to replenish the strength of the human beings.


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