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MIZIGAN It is a good time for sugarbush MoleLakeWis.Fourwheeldriveandaheavyfootonthepedalgetsusthrough dense mud and sizable puddles. This is our sugarbush nods Chris McGeshick Mole Lake tribal chairman. We gaze upon hundreds of large and healthy maples scattered throughout rolling hills. This is where I learned to do maple syrup when I was a young boy says McGeshick. Just as he speaks of his childhood we pull into the camp where a group of youth is waiting for us. Eager to begin the young ones begin attaching the bags to the metal frames remembering what they had been taught just days before. The group armed with a drill buckets and taps climbs a small hill and sets off into the woods. Asemaa tobacco is offered and the first tree is drilled. A young boy puts all of his weight into the drill and a community member has to add a little more weight for the drill to pierce the tree. Nearby the other youth empty the bulging bags of sap without instruction. Before anyone can put a tap in the tree begins to spew sap and everyone begins to smile. Some of the young boys instinctively place their tongues underneath the tap and taste maple sap for the first time. With unpredictable weather and threats of climate change its always uncertain when and how long the sap will run. Other community members come out to help the kids dump buckets and tap more trees. A couple of Mole Lake Tribal Council members arrive and help as well. Down the trail a few yards the community elders have a sugarbush set up. Its truly a beautiful thought that elders and youth work alongside each other. Everyone does their sugarbush a bit differently but at the end of the day its all made into the same sweet products we learned to savor. The communities that foster their young ones with the exercise of treaty rights and the passing of cultural knowledge can rest knowing these young people will carry forth these very practices and teachings that are a piece of Anishinaabe identity. Sokaogon youth take to the woods Tap mino aninaatig good maple By Dylan Jennings Staff Writer Sokaogon maple sap gatherers include Back row left to right Leelyn VanZile Arlyn Ackley Jr. Chris McGeshick Carson Ackley Mike Krusensterna Ashenni McGeshick and Cheyenne Landru. Front row left to right Vinny Amundson Nolan Thorbahn Jacob Macintosh and Troy Soldier. Above Mole Lake Chairman Chris McGeshick shows Jacob Macintosh Sokaogon youth how to assemble a bag for sap collection. Looking on are Ashenni McGeshick and Nolan Thorbahn. Inset Leelyn VanZile carefully pours fresh sap into a galvanized container to transport home for boiling. Leelyn VanZile gives the drill a little boost as Ashenni McGeshick carefully drills into a maple. Troy Soldier supervises the crew and awaits his turn. photos by Dylan Jennings PAGE 13 MAZINAIGAN