Mnokme was the time when the spirits reawakened and life was restored. Ceremonies were performed thanking the spirits for their winter protection and for fertility, as new life emerged.
With the approaching Jejaukgises [Crane Moon] temperatures rose, the rivers and lakes thawed, and maple sap began to flow. Potawatomi would disperse into familial syrup camps with each group claiming matrilineal rights to portions of maple forests known as sugar bushes. Through bzegwaboté [tempering], sap was converted into ziwagmedé [syrup] and zizbakwet [sugar], both used to season the daily fare as well as food and drinks for feasts and gatherings. Given its flavorful qualities, it was a prized and profitable commodity among Woodland tribes and foreign traders.
Aside from being skilled hunters, fishermen and food gatherers, Potawatomi were successful agriculturalists. Villages used an ancient technique known as slash and burn to clear and convert forests into enriched agricultural fields. Utilizing the lands natural topography, fields were established in various sizes and patterns. During Gtegangises [Planting Moon], tools made of bone, stone and wood were used to cultivate a variety of crops including peanuts, potatoes, onions, melons and what we refer to as the “Three Sisters” [corn, beans and squash]. Agrarian duties were traditionally those of women, yet many times communal efforts were needed in preparation for specific events.
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