Historic Tribal Economies

Food, Fuel and Our Future Economies?

Did you know that in 1865, the Mackinaw Indian Agency reported that Chippewa Indians at the Keeweenaw Bay Indian Reservation, Lanse, Michigan produced 453,252 pounds of Maple Sugar that was sold to east coast businessmen?

Within 20 years, the maple sugaring business was in decline both because of heavy lumbering of sugar maple groves and the acquisition of Caribbean territories, Hawaii and other sugar cane growing colonies. Cane sugar, (which has less then half the healthy nutrients and ingredients as maple), and plantations in those territories reduced the cost of sugar by 50% or more, and along with it, the demand for maple sugar for food preservation, brewing rum and making other sweet things.

In 2014 prices at $55 a gallon (in 2015 a gallon of Penokee Gold Maple Syrup was being sold for $75 to $100 a gallon) the value of the syrup sold would have been around an estimated $1,705.000. In 2014 prices for a pound of sugar at $18 a pound, the value of the sale could have been close to $4,460,000. On some Wisconsin reservations a pound of maple sugar has been selling between $22-$25 a pound in 2015.

If the sugar had been made into small candies and other Value Added Products which double or triple the value of your basic product the potential income at retail values in your store, could have produced as much as $5,115,000 in sales.


Historic photo is of Ms. Mink of the Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation during the 1920s. Look closely at the tap which is not a carved round sumac tap, but appears to be more of a flat inserted wafer board or metal.

NB3 Capacity Building Grant

The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is accepting applications for Capacity Building Grants to assist Native communities in developing culturally appropriate childhood obesity prevention strategies by providing resources and technical assistance.  Applications for grants up to $20,000 will be accepted through January 22, 2016.

Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is accepting applications for its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) through Thursday, January 21, 2016. ¬†This program funds collaborations aimed at addressing the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers through new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives.