Two Spirit Myths: Origin Stories – Anishinaabe

Maple Sugar Moon

Maple Sugar Moon

When Nanabozho, the Anishinaabe Original Man, our teacher, part man and part manido, walked through the world, he took note of who was flourishing and who was not, of who was mindful of the Original Instructions and who was not. He was dismayed when he came upon villages where the gardens were not being tended, where the fishnets were not repaired and the children were not being taught the way to live. Instead of seeing piles of firewood and caches of corn, he found the people lying beneath maple trees with their mouths wide open, catching the thick, sweet syrup of the generous trees.

Syrup right from the maple trees

Nanabozha realized that the people had become lazy and took for granted the gifts of the Creator. They did not do their ceremonies or care for one another. He knew his responsibility, so he went to the river and dipped up many buckets of water. He poured the water straight into the maple trees to dilute the syrup.

Today, with the advent of the Maple Sugar Moon (Zizibaskwet Giizis), maple sap flows like a stream of water with only a trace of sweetness to remind the people both of possibility and of responsibility. And so it is that it takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. [1]

Maple trees tapped for syrup liquids

[1] Adapted from oral tradition and Ritzenthaler and Ritzenthaler 1983, as reported by Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Milkweed Editions, 2013, page 63.