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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Ishkigamisegi Geezis, the fourth moon "Maple Syrup"

Maple products are a unique phenomenon with a rich history. The sweet sap of the sugar MAPLE (Acer saccharum) was known and valued by the native peoples of eastern North America long before the arrival of European settlers. An Iroquois legend tells of the piercing of the bark of a maple and the use of the "sweet water" to cook venison, a happy accident which established the culinary tradition of maple-cured meats. French settlers probably learned from the Indians how to tap trees to obtain sap and how to boil it to reduce it to sweet syrup or sugar slabs to be stored for later use.
The Ojibwa called the Ishkigamisegi Geezis, the fourth moon, was the Moon of Boiling.
"sugaring off" period the "maple moon" or "sugar month." The tradition of sugaring off became established in communities in the deciduous forests of North America and has survived to the present time.
World production of maple sugar is limited to the Maple Belt, the hardwood FOREST stretching from the Midwestern US through Ontario, Québec and New England and into the Canadian Maritimes. In the fall, the sugar maple lays down concentrated sugars in the rays of the tree; these sugars mature during winter and are harvested while the frost is still in the ground. The sap flow is stimulated in spring as the days become warmer and temperatures rise above 0°C during daylight, followed by below-freezing nights. Within the tree, positive pressures (as high as 165 kPa or 1.6 atmospheres) produce a natural flow of sap that is tapped by boring holes into the tree. The clear sap rushes out of these holes and into the collection system.
As the pressure drops during the day, the sap flow slows down and stops. Negative pressure is then found within the tree, and it begins to absorb water through the root system. The next day, as the tree warms up, positive pressure is restored and the pumping action yields another flow. The process continues for about 6 weeks in early spring. At the end of that time the sap takes on a cloudy appearance and the sugar content drops off dramatically. During the height of the sugaring season, sap contains about between 2% and 5% sugar; towards the end of the season less than 1%. During the maple harvest, the tree will give up about 7% of its sap; tests confirm that this does no long-term damage to the tree. Many of the tapped trees are well over 100 years old.
There are various sap-gathering methods. Traditional bucket collection, although still used throughout the Maple Belt, is being replaced by a vacuum-tubing system that reduces labour and creates a more sanitary environment for collection. Once the maple sap is collected, it is evaporated into syrup. The dilute raw material is reduced to remove excess water; nothing is added. It takes approximately 30-45 L of maple sap to produce 1 L of pure maple syrup. Water can be removed from sap by using various systems, from wood-fired evaporators to reverse osmosis systems that separate water from the sugar molecules at high pressure. However, the sugarhouse remains the focal point of maple-syrup production; each sugar maker has one of his own.
There are about 16 000 maple-syrup producers in North America. There are about 16 000 maple-syrup producers in North America with over 80% in Canada. In 1995 total world production was 18 981 kl, of which Canada produced 14 890 kl. The province of Québec produced 13 540 kl, which represents over 90% of the total Canadian production. The rest of the Canadian production came from Ontario (5%), New Brunswick (4%) and Nova Scotia (1%). Canada's share of the world's maple production is increasing. In 1992 Canada produced 75% of the world's production. In 1995 Canada's share was 79%.
Maple syrup is a pure, natural sweetener, the only other liquid natural sweetener being honey. Maple syrup has an abundance of trace minerals that are essential to good nutrition: potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, copper and tin, as well as calcium in concentrations 15 times higher than honey. It contains only one-tenth as much sodium as honey, an important consideration for those on a salt-restricted diet.
Maple syrup is graded according to colour, flavour and density; standards are prescribed by law. It must be in the range of 66-67% Brix (a hydrometric scale for sugar solutions) or 32-34% on the Baumé scale (for liquids heavier than water). Anything less or more cannot be graded and sold as pure maple syrup.
After witnessing another extraordinary Canadian spring phenomenon where she discovered the secrets of Canada's liquid asset, a famous British culinary expert (Delia Smith) attempted to describe Canadian maple syrup: "a unique ingredient, smooth and silky textured, with a sweet, distinctive flavour - hints of caramel with overtones of toffee will not do- and rare colour amber set alight. Maple flavour is, well, maple flavour, uniquely different from any other, and ultimately quality is determined by what they call the long mouth feel".
In 1995 total exports of maple products was 19.5 million kg for a value of $80.4 million Canadian. Over 70% of Canadian production of maple products is exported. The most important market is the US, with 77% of total exports. Other principal buyers of Canadian maple products are Japan with 4.2%, Germany with 4.9%, the United Kingdom with 2.1%, Australia with 1.8% and France with 1.7%.
In the early part of the 1970s, the traditional buyers were the large food companies. When the US Food and Drug Administration reduced the minimum volume of maple syrup that must be listed as an ingredient in products sold as "maple syrup" and "maple sugar" from 15% to 2%, sales plunged dramatically and the industry experienced a major crisis. Efforts were made to develop a new market aimed directly at the consumer and the growth of this market has rejuvenated the industry. Maple products are now consumed in over 30 countries. Maple syrup remains one of the best natural sweetening sources in the world. It is still served mainly over pancakes, but recently it has also been considered a condiment. It is now used in fine cuisine to prepare sauces, glazes and vinaigrettes. In addition to its use as a syrup or as an ingredient in fine cuisine, and capitalizing on its magic and mystery, some consumers around the World prepare concoctions for special diets or for purification purposes or during special events such as fasting.

Registration Process for Bill C-3 Applicants

On December 15, 2010 Bill C-3 Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act received Royal Assent and is in effect as of January 31, 2011. Bill C-3 will ensure that eligible grand-children of women who lost status as a result of marrying non-Indian men will become entitled to registration (Indian status). Because of this legislation, approximately 45,000 persons will become newly entitled to registration.
Generally speaking, the key criteria to be newly entitled to registration are:
  • Did your grandmother lose her Indian status as a result of marrying a non-Indian?
  • Is one of your parents registered, or entitled to be registered, under sub-section 6(2) of the Indian Act?
  • Were you, or one of your siblings, born on or after September 4, 1951?
General enquires on Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act should be directed to:
INAC Public Enquiries Contact Centre
Phone: (toll-free) 1-800-567-9604
Fax: 1-866-817-3977
TTY: (toll-free) 1-866-553-0554
Bill C-3 applicants will be offered an improved service, whereby eligible applicants can expect to receive registration as an Indian under the Indian Act AND an in-Canada Secure Certificate of Indian Status (status card) in one step. The Secure Certificate of Indian Status is an identity document issued by INAC to confirm that the cardholder is registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act
INAC is providing this service to Bill C-3 applicants as they do not currently have a status card.  As INAC is moving towards fully implementing the Secure Certificate of Indian Status, it is more efficient for both clients and for INAC to provide these new first-time clients with the new SCIS at the time of registration.  Both cards, the current Certificate of Indian Status and the new SCIS provide equal access to benefits and access to programs.
This service has resulted in the development of a specific registration form which must be used by Bill C-3 applicants when submitting their request for registration. Application forms are available at the following locations:
Due to the large volume of applications that is anticipated to be received in a short time frame, INAC will only be offering a self-service mail-in application option. INAC has set up a dedicated processing unit to handle in a timely fashion Bill C-3 applications. We therefore ask applicants not to send their application to INAC regional offices or Service Canada Centres, but rather to mail it directly to the INAC Processing Unit to ensure that their application is processed in an expedited manner:
INAC Application Processing Unit
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
GD Stn Main
Winnipeg MB   R3C 0M2

Applicants will be required to include certain identification documents with their completed application form in order to be registered and receive an in-Canada SCIS:
  • Original birth certificate (listing parents names)
  • Two passport style photographs
  • Copies of valid identification (i.e. - driver's licence, passport, government issued ID - copies signed by guarantor)
  • Guarantor Declaration for SCIS
And if applicable:
  • Legal change of name document or marriage certificate
  • Custody Court Order
  • Statutory Declaration Form(s)
Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide all required information and documentation at the time of application. This will avoid unnecessary delays in obtaining registration and the SCIS.  Incomplete applications will be assessed for eligibility of registration, and if deemed eligible, clients will be contacted to provide any remaining information or documents
We also encourage applicants to use the INAC Public Enquiries Contact Centre (1-800-567-9604) for questions and mail-in their complete applications directly to the INAC Processing Unit to ensure optimal client service under the circumstances introduced with Bill C-3.
Confirmation of registration and receipt of the in-Canada format of the SCIS will occur in two stages. INAC has established an application processing service level standard, which takes into consideration the expectation of receiving large volumes of applications over a short time period. Applications which are complete will be processed for registration within 4-6 months. Individuals who are deemed eligible for registration will receive a letter of confirmation and providing them with registration number which will allow access to benefits and services until the in-Canada SCIS is issued.
If all the required documentation has been provided with the application, individuals will receive their in-Canada format of the SCIS within 10-12 weeks after the letter confirming registration has been mailed.

Birchbark scrolls

Wiigwaasabak (Ojibwe language, plural: wiigwaasabakoon) are birch bark scrolls, on which the Ojibwa (Anishinaabe) people of North America wrote complex geometrical patterns and shapes. When used specifically for Midewiwin ceremonial use, these scrolls are called mide-wiigwaas. These writings enabled the memorization of complex ideas, and passing along history and stories to succeeding generations. Several such scrolls are in museums, including one on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. One recent study of a few scrolls details the complex math and memorizing scheme associated with the symbols that were used long ago.  The complex writings also include astronomy, rituals, mapping, family lineage, songs, and migration routes. In addition to birchbark, copper and slate may have also been used, along with hides, pottery, and other artifacts. Some archaeologists are presently trying to determine the exact origins, dates, and locations of their use. Many scrolls were hidden away in caves and underground man-made pits.

Anishnabek Pre-Contact

According to the oral history of the Anishinabek and from their recordings in birch bark scrolls, the Ojibwa came from the eastern areas of North America, or Turtle Island (the English language translation of many Native American tribes' name for the continent of North America), and from along the east coast. They traded widely across the continent for thousands of years and knew of the canoe routes west and a land route to the West Coast.
When the Anishinabek were living on the shores of the "Great Salt Water" (presumably the Atlantic Ocean near the Gulf of St. Lawrence). They were instructed by seven prophets to follow a sacred miigis shell, a whiteshell (cowry) toward the west, until they reached a place where food grew upon the water. They began their migration sometime around 950 C.E., stopping at various points along the way, most significantly at Baawitigong, Sault Ste. Marie, where they stayed for a long time, and where two subgroups decided to stay (these became the Potawatomi and Ottawa). Eventually they arrived at the wild rice lands of Minnesota and Wisconsin (wild rice being the food that grew upon the water) and made Mooningwanekaaning minis (Madeline Island: "Island of the yellow-shafted flicker") their new capital. In total, the migration took around five centuries.
Following the migration there was a cultural divergence separating the Potawatomi from the Ojibwa and Ottawa. Particularly, the Potawatomi did not adopt the agricultural innovations discovered or adopted by the Ojibwa, such as the Three Sisters crop complex, copper tools, conjugal collaborative farming, and the use of canoes in rice harvesting (Waldman 2006). Also, the Potawatomi divided labor according to gender, much more than did the Ojibwa and Ottawa.
The Potawatomi (also spelled Pottawatomie or Pottawatomi) are a Native American people originally of the Great Lakes region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family.
The Potawatomi controlled a vast amount of territory in the 1700s and served as middlemen for the fur trade between the French and various Great Lakes Tribes. Among the first Native Americans to intermarry with the Europeans, they fought alongside the French in the French and Indian Wars and later as allies of the British in the War of 1812.
Descendant’s numbers between 30,000 to 40,000 in the early twenty-first century, scattered throughout Canada and the United States, with many settled on or near the ten (official and unofficial) reservations. Most of today's Potawatomi also claim European descendancy.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Introducing the Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway) or Chippewa (also Chippeway)

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway) or Chippewa (also Chippeway) are among the largest groups of Native Americans-First Nations north of Mexico. They are the third-largest in the United States, surpassed only by Cherokee and Navajo. They are equally divided between the United States and Canada. Because they were formerly located mainly around Sault Ste. Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, the French referred to them as Saulteurs. Ojibwe who subsequently moved to the prairie provinces have retained the name Saulteaux. Ojibwe who were originally located about the Mississagi River and made their way to southern Ontario are known as the Mississaugas.

As a major component group of the Anishinaabe peoples—which includes the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree, Odawa and the Potawatomi—the Ojibwe peoples number over 56,440 in the U.S., living in an area stretching across the north from Michigan to Montana. Another 77,940 of main-line Ojibwe, 76,760 Saulteaux and 8,770 Mississaugas, in 125 bands, live in Canada, stretching from western Quebec to eastern British Columbia. They are known for their birch bark canoes, sacred birch bark scrolls, the use of cowrie shells, wild rice, copper points, and for their use of gun technology from the British to defeat and push back the Dakota nation of the Sioux (1745). The Ojibwe Nation was the first to set the agenda for signing more detailed treaties with Canada's leaders before many settlers were allowed too far west. The Midewiwin Society is well respected as the keeper of detailed and complex scrolls of events, history, songs, maps, memories, stories, geometry, and mathematics.