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Sugarbush brings healing, sweet maple syrup

ODANAH, Wisconsin — Sugarbush time begins in the fleeting moments when winter first signals its departure, making way for spring. When the daytime temperatures rise above 40 degrees, usually about mid-March, the maple sap begins to flow.

Although one can continue to gather sap after trees begin to bud, the syrup is bitter. Sugarbush is a short, delicious season of intense work signaling that the first fruits of the earth are emerging. Fresh maple sap is highly perishable and must be cooked into syrup or sugar soon after gathering. Sugarbush time usually lasts about 3 weeks.

Long ago, the sap was cooked down into sugar, easier to store and lighter than syrup.

But the sugarbush is about far more than maple syrup on pancakes. As with most Ojibwe traditional ways, tapping trees in the early spring and gathering sap for syrup and sugar cakes not only provides tasty food but offers lessons for life.

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Native language bill introduced

A bipartisan bill to support Native languages was introduced this week by Sens. Brian Schatz and Lisa Murkowski.

Schatz, a Hawai‘i Democrat, is the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs chairman, and Murkowski, a Republican representing Alaska, is the vice chairman.

The Durbin Feeling Native American Languages Act of 2021 is named after Feeling, a Cherokee linguist who passed away in August.

The bill would review and make recommendations to improve federal agencies’ coordination in support of Native American languages, according to the committee.

Indian Health Service leader testifies

Elizabeth Fowler, Indian Health Service acting director, provided testimony this week on health disparities in Indian Country.

“During my testimony, I highlighted some of our considerable achievements, which include developing a COVID-19 data surveillance system and the IHS COVID-19 website to share critical health information, as well as important COVID-19 vaccine information and updates,” Fowler, Comanche Nation, wrote in a blog post.

The testimony was part of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Read Fowler's full testimony here.

ICYMI: Joe Biden’s address to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden declared that “America is rising anew” as he called for an expansion of federal programs to drive the economy past the coronavirus pandemic and broadly extend the social safety net on a scale not seen in decades.

To read more, click here.

A Navajo Code Talkers memorial in Window Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. (Photo courtesy of the Navajo Nation)

Code talker medals still available

Since 2008, Native American code talkers have had a special coin in their honor.

The coins feature many tribes and can be found on the U.S. Mint website.

Check them out.

Mother’s Day is coming soon

Mom is the best, right? Mother’s Day is here again (May 9).

Here is a fun list of gift ideas for mom.

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