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Maple Sap Ceremony hanadrina wedaikes “gathering maple sap.”
Ganrahtgaht | En'niska | February

When maple sap runs, at the end of March or early April (about Easter Time). The rites were performed formerly in the maple groves; now they have been transferred to the Long House at the time the sap stops running; about the second week in April.

Duration: One day.
Purpose: Thanksgiving for maple sap and syrup.
Composition: Feather Dance.
False Face Society Dance. No curing is performed. False Face Societies dance without wearing masks, and sing djqsiteakhas song series.

The Maple Tree Ceremony is held at the end of February or first part of March, after the first thunder which wakes up the trees. It all depends on the weather. When the warm winds once again begin to circulate, a day is set aside to give thanks.

A tobacco burning is done to honour the maple tree. Each camp in the community will have their own tobacco burning. A small fire is built near a maple tree. The words in the tobacco burning asks all of creation for a safe time while the people are in the woods working, thus calling on the Creator to assure that no great harm comes to those harvesting the sap. All of creation is acknowledged. Then the people can go out and set up their sugar camps.

Once the camps are all done harvesting the sap, and everything is cleaned up, a day is picked by the faith keepers to give thanks for what the people have been able to harvest. At this time, the sap is used as medicine for everyone to drink and give thanks. Two Great Feather Dances are done as a way to honour the maple tree and for creation’s cooperation during the harvesting of the sap.

In the spring, when the sap rose, it was time for the Thanks-to-the-Maple Festival. This one-day celebration included social dances and the ceremonial burning of tobacco at the base of a maple tree.

Also, maple sap was one of the few sweeteners that the Indians had. The sap was collected from maple trees in the forest the maple sap was used for making maple sugar to put in breads. They also boiled the sap and made syrup and even made a type of snow cone candy treat for the children. A very important part of the forest was the plants used for medicine. The medicines were used to cure sicknesses that could cause deaths. Foods from the forest were an important part of the Iroquois diet.

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