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Maple Sugaring Native American style

Maple Sugaring at Institute for American Indian Studies

Once again this year the Institute for American Indian Studies, located on 38 Curtis Rd. in Washington Connecticut is hosting their annual maple sugaring festival on March 1 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

This annual event in Litchfield Hills is a sweet favorite because it shows how Native people discovered sources of sweetening their foods in the woods. Sugaring is lost in pre-history, but it is known that the Native peoples unlocked many secrets of extracting dietary substances from the environment.

At one time, entire families would participate in the labor of sugaring, in some tribes the women were responsible for repairing the sugaring utensils and in other tribes such as the Iroquois and Ojibwa, women actually owned maple groves which they inherited through their mothers.

Native peoples collected tree sap as we still do today and boiled it down. They put the tree sap in a hollowed out log lined with hot stones to bring the sap to boil, and may have had to replace the hot stones several times for the sap to reach the right consistency.

At this time honored event, participants will see the process of boiling down sap and learn the traditional ways that Native Americans made maple syrup. There will be demonstrations of how sap was collected and boiled down, and discussions of how maple syrup was used by Native Americans and what it meant to them culturally. Participants are invited to enjoy pancakes and local maple syrup that will be served from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. After this sweet treat, a series of activities are planned for children from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. This event is $12 for adults and $10 for children.

For more information about other programs the Institute offers visit For information about the Litchfield Hills

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