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The Algonquian Indian Legend

We don't really know who first discovered maple syrup, though most people believe Native Americans in the northeastern part of North America discovered the sweet sap of the maple tree. Several legends have been handed down over the centuries which tell of the first discovery of maple syrup. This legend comes from the Algonquian Indians and relates how a the wife of a chief discovered maple syrup quite by accident while preparing venison during the "Season of the Melting Snow."

Woksis, the Indian Chief, was going hunting one day early in March. He yanked his tomahawk from the tree where he had hurled it the night before, and went off for the day. The weather turned warm and the gash in the tree, a maple tree, dripped sap into a vessel that happened to stand close to the trunk. Toward evening Woksis's wife needed water in which to boil their dinner. She saw the trough full of sap and thought that would save her a trip to get water. Besides, she was a careful woman and didn't like to waste anything. So she tasted the maple sap and found it good-a little sweet, but not bad. She used it to cook her venison. When Woksis came home from hunting, he smelled the unique maple aroma and from far off knew that something especially good was brewing. The water had boiled down to syrup, which sweetened their meal with maple. Woksis found the gravy sweet and delicious. He spread the good news how the Great Spirit had guided his wife in making the delicious new food, Sinzibuckwud (meaning, "drawn from the wood" in the Algonquian tongue). Soon all the women were  "sugar-making" ("seensibaukwut"), and the braves began performing the "Sugar Dance." Thereafter, maple sugar was produced and celebrated each spring after the long, cold winter during the "Season of the Melting Snow."

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