When The Maple Sap Flows
In the spring, you can often spot white smoke billowing out of homes around Akwesasne. This is when wah:ta oh:ses (maple sap) flows and it’s to make maple syrup. The spring season is here and it is a time to celebrate. These billows of white smoke mark where residential sugar shacks are beginning to process the maple sap they have been collecting since early March. The change from winter to spring awakens “the blood” of the Maple tree, the dark, and sweet sap flows freely. It is said that the maple sap/syrup was a gift from The Creator, given to the people to restore good health and happiness following the long, cold winters that can weaken the body and spirit.
Maple Syrup in Akwesasne
Before it came in a bottle in the grocery store, maple syrup was made by Indigenous people who tapped, collected, and processed the maple sap into the popular sweetener we all love today. This long-standing tradition was passed down from generation to generation through elders and oral teachings. Today the ancient practice of making maple syrup still exists in the Akwesasne community. Much like the corn, beans and squash, wah:ta (maple syrup) is significant to Haudenosaunee people. An annual ceremony is held to give thanks to the Creator, for providing the maple sap and the maple tree (leader of all trees) for our good health and good fortune. To learn more about the history and legend of the wah:ta (maple syrup), visit the Native North American Traveling College and the Akwesasne Cultural Center & Museum.
Wah:ta oh:ses is a traditional food, often incorporated in many local dishes such as mush, cornbread, and strawberry drink. Blending old traditions with a modern twist, Ionte’s Cornbread is a made-to-order, fresh, and locally sourced cornbread business, which is working towards reclaiming Native foods and nutrition. To find more locally sourced maple products, visit the Akwesasne Farmers Market, open June – October at Generations Park.