A taste of Native American history

FILE - This file photo from March 23, 2014, shows one step in the process of making maple syrup the old-fashioned way. (WLFI Photo)
FILE - This file photo from March 23, 2014, shows one step in the process of making maple syrup the old-fashioned way. (WLFI Photo)

PROPHETSTOWN, Ind. (WLFI) – On Saturday and Sunday afternoon, visitors at Prophetstown State Park learned about Native American history while getting a little taste of it too.

“When it’s fresh and warm, it’s absolutely delicious,” said Jessica Diemer-Eaton, with Prophetstown State Park.

It all starts with the sap from a maple tree.

“We will concentrate it down into maple syrup, but we’re not going to stop there because the Native American people really enjoyed making maple sugar,” said Diemer-Eaton.

Visitors to Prophetstown learned about the history behind maple sugaring.

Woodland Indian Educational Program historical interpreter Jessica Diemer-Eaton and husband Mark Eaton demonstrated maple sugaring using the methods used during the early 1800’s. Diemer-Eaton said maple sugaring is a very important part of Prophetstown history.

“The prophet who started this community had urged his people to go back to their native ways. One of the thing’s he specifically said was to make our own sugar again. We’ve always made Maple sugar, so we need to go back to that,” said Diemer-Eaton.

The couple also showed prehistoric ways of sugaring using hot stone boiling. Prophetstown State Park interpretive naturalist Angie Manuel said it shows visitors just how much work went into making the maple sugar.

“It’s something that you had to go gather from the woods, you had to boil it down and it took a long time. So, it makes them appreciate that sweet product,” said Manuel.

Diemer-Eaton said it also shows the history behind what she considers a Native American art form.

“It’s really wonderful to know the history of our foods and again Native American foods included very sweet foods sweetened by Maple sugar. Maple syrup is really a Native American craft,” said Diemer-Eaton.

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