On March 8th, the Chi-Nations Youth Council (CNYC) had a very successful fundraiser at the AIC, selling plates of ogaa (Ojibwe word for Walleye) and manoomin (Ojibwe word for wild rice) at $12 a plate. The ogaa and manoomin was a gift from Darwin Sumner of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chief Meskokonaye Youth Cultural Camp in Red Lake, MN. This donation is to help fund a spring break harvest camp in Red Lake beginning on April 14th.
Darwin came prepared with 3 kids, 230 walleye filets, 20 lbs of rice, and an award winning fry bread cook – Adele from Rosebud, SD. It took 12 hours to drive from Red Lake, MN to Chicago, IL. Darwin and his crew even hunkered down at the center for a couple nights – leaving the morning after the fundraiser. Asked about his stay at the center, Darwin said, “everyone just had a blast. This is one of the best fundraisers I’ve ever put on and we can’t wait to come back and do it again!”
Not only is Darwin running the camp in April, he’s also a great cook, he said, “It’s amazing how many people ask me for my batter and tartar sauce recipe. People kept coming into the kitchen asking me about it. I just said ‘I can’t tell you that’. Every place I go they tell me to market it myself. It’s all trial and error you know.”
It was a great event that lasted all day and everyone helped out. The kids helped plan the event, serve guests, took orders, sold raffle tickets, helped in the kitchen, helped set up, and even held signs in front of the building. Through this event, the CNYC nearly reached their goal of $3,500 (WOOHOO!). The CNYC thanks everyone who helped out with special donations: Lynne Wendler, Eli Suzukovich III, Sharon Skolnick, Robert Wapahi, June Thiele and ‘Stage 773’, Norma Robertson, and the Red Line Drum group who donated honorarium money from a recent powwow.
Anthony Pochel of CNYC says this trip is important to him because, “we get to represent our community, learn about our culture, build up our relationships, and become better leaders.” Last year, CNYC went to Red Lake, taking five kids and this year we’ll be bringing four more kids than last year. CNYC advisor Janie Pochel said, “this is cool because the kids who are going back will have the opportunity to teach the new kids about Red Lake and beaver trapping.” Last year’s trip was a success by all accounts. Nobody got lost or hurt and everyone had a good time. Last year, camp was focused on ice fishing and trapping. This year, we plan on helping in the sugar bush – tapping maples and birches.
This year’s harvest camp, we’ll be sleeping outside. This was done because tapping maples is a seriously big deal, especially when you’re tapping hundreds of trees, you don’t have the luxury of going home at the end of the day because someone has to watch over and cook all that sap. Not only that, you have to be around to watch over your pails to make sure animals don’t help themselves to the yummy goodness flowing from the trees.
Since it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple sugar, everyone at the camp has to help. People would have to fish and cook. Grandmas watch over the food and kids. Kids checked taps and gathered firewood. Everyone took turns stirring the sap until the water was evaporated leaving maple syrup. Darwin says the CNYC, “can expect to get a lot of exercise with long days that can be a little chilly at times, so you’re going to have to wear extra clothing, we’re going to camp out, and we’re going to do some beaver trapping.”
Tapping maples is something we had to do long ago to just survive and feed our people. The maple syrup was more than just a sweetener. It was used for many things, including money. During the fall it was used to preserve meat. So it was one of the most valuable commodities. I’ve even heard some people say that maple sugar was traded as far south as Florida and Mexico. So it has a history of bringing people together from multiple communities, just like the AIC-Red Lake connection happening today.
Chi-Nation’s t-shirt sale was also a success selling over 50 t-shirts. The Chi-Nation’s Youth Council is still young and looking for new members. If you are interested in becoming a part of Chi-Nation’s as a donor, member, or advisor – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, be on the look-out for some digital stories to come out of this trip to Red Lake.
For more information or questions about the Chi-Nations Youth Council or the trip to Red Lake, email David Bender at email@example.com.