Members of the Detroit Sugarbush Project return to Rouge Park, where a fire burned again — and with it came calls for healing and understanding.
On Feb. 18, people with the Detroit Sugarbush Project – many of them Indigenous – gathered in Rouge Park for a ritual to mark the start of the annual maple syrup harvest. The burning of a sacred fire drew the attention of law enforcement. Soon more than a dozen Detroit Police officers arrived and ordered the ceremony to end.
As WDET’s Russ McNamara reports, a fire burned again in the sugarbush and with it came calls for healing and understanding.
Listen: Jefferson Ballew and his wife Sonja sing a welcome song in the Rouge Park Sugarbush.
Listen: Sonja Ballew explains the ancient cooking technology — a carved wooden paddle.
“It’s getting close”
Listen: Debating whether the sap is ready to be turned into sugar.
Listen: Jefferson Ballew explains how the trough helps turn sap into sugar while working.
Listen: Antonio and Jefferson work the sap into sugar — to Sonja’s approval.
Listen: Everyone gets a taste of the finished product.
In the background, you can hear the trill of a red-bellied woodpecker and the voice of Randiah Camille Green, a Detroit Metro Times reporter who wrote her own excellent article about the day in the Detroit Sugarbush.
All photos and video by Russ McNamara
Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.
WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.