2nd Annual Sōpomāhtek (maple tree) Activities

On March 15th, 2014, Indigenous Science Day participants took part in the 2nd annual Sōpomāhtek (Menominee for maple tree) Activities at the American Indian Center of Chicago. There are a total of three Maples tapped around the American Indian Center of Chicago. Last year one Sōpomāhtek produced approximately 10 gallons of sap. Once the sap was cooked down there was only a few ounces of sōpomātek-sōpomah (maple sugar, Menominee). This year, we will hope for more sōpomātek-sōpomah and we will work hard to get it. Last year’s winter produced approximately 30 inches of snow and this year’s winter has produced almost 70 inches of snow and we will see how this effects our sōpomātek-sōpomah. Stay tuned for more details and future sōpomah Activities!

As we learned from the story of Manabozho, the creator made the world easy for people and a long time ago sōpomātek-sōpomah used to drip from the branches of maple trees. And one day, Manabozho decided to go for a walk and see how his friends, the Anishnabe were doing and he couldn’t find anyone, no one was hunting, no one fishing and no one was tending their crops, and no one was picking berries. He walked through the forest and found that people were laying under the Sōpomāhtek, letting the thick syrup drip into their mouths.
So, Manabozho went down to the river. He took with him a big basket he had made of birch bark. With this basket, he brought back many buckets of water. He went to the top of the maple trees and poured water in, so that it thinned out the syrup. Now, thick maple syrup no longer dripped out of the broken twigs. Now what came out was thin and watery and just barely sweet to the taste.
“This is how it will be from now on,” Manabozho said. “No longer will syrup drip from the maple trees. Now there will only be this watery sap. When people want to make maple syrup they will have to gather many buckets full of the sap in a birch bark basket like mine. They will have to gather wood and make fires so they can heat stones to drop into the baskets. They will have to boil the water with the heated stones for a long time to make even a little maple syrup. Then my people will no longer grow fat and lazy. Then they will appreciate this maple syrup the Creator made available to them. Not only that, this sap will drip only from the trees at a certain time of the year, when the nights are cold and the days are warm. Then it will not keep people from hunting and fishing and gathering and hoeing in the fields. This is how it is going to be,” Manabozho said.
And, that is how it is to this day. 

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