Wahta Nikarontoten

Once again the maple trees have followed their original instructions by providing that sweet water after a long, cold winter. When the temperature hovers above freezing, the sap will flow like a heartbeat. Those who collect their own sap know that the seasons are slightly off, so storing as much of that golden nectar as possible is a necessity.

When the bush is opened we give thanks and ask that no trees may fall and cause one harm, offering Tobacco. It is a great teaching tool for young children, as most like to stand underneath the taps for a taste of a single drop. The buckets fill with a drop every couple of seconds. After a short period the buckets will fill, but it is that single drop that makes it important. Teaching the young ones that through hard work and dedication, small acts multiplied by many can benefit all.

The nutrients found in the sap water are different than other sugars. Instead of being destroyed by heat they actually are concentrated, and in turn, more effective. It can aid those with diabetic problems as well as clean the body of toxins.

Drinking the sap water when it is fresh flushes out the organs of the winter diet, which in the old days consisted of mostly dried meat. Most boil the sap into syrup to be stored away. The water content can’t be too high or the syrup will mold. Simply bring back to boil, and by removing the mold, it will become purified once again.

Others will boil the syrup while mixing it until it is like wet sand, creating sugar. One can also let the syrup dry in a shallow pan, creating crystallized rock candy. Warriors used to carry a medicine bag filled with a powdered substance containing maple sugar, dried strawberries, dried meat and lyed corn flour. All that needed to be added was water to make a corn mush or bread. This was a necessity on long hunting trips.

The corporate world is starting to market our sweet water as a heal-all drink, creating a demand for the nectar. Like all other pay to pray gestures, this is deemed sacrilegious. When their ancestors first arrived in these woods, starving and cold with nowhere to turn, it was the Wahta Tree that provided them with sustenance. It was the Haudenosaunee that showed them hospitality, gifting them the knowledge to fend for themselves.

The first settlers depended on this tree so much that they eventually put the Wahta leaf on their flag. Know the world sees Kanata as the place where Maple Syrup comes from. Venturing out to commercialized sugar shacks, you will hear stories of lazy Indians falling asleep under a tree where they had stuck their hatchet, awaking drenched from the sticky liquid. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They fail to acknowledge the kindness and respect given to them by these indigenous nations, while plundering the goods to be shipped out to the world.

They give no thanks, only take without acknowledgement. This mentality will no longer be accepted or given a safe place to colonize. The sugar bushes throughout these lands have a great deal to learn about this place and must know that our sacred gift to them was not to be hoarded like gold, but to be shared with those in need. Those trees were there before any of us were born and they will be there long after we’re gone, Ton a:to.

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