Jon Greendeer Opens Sugarbush



Former president of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Jon Greendeer, shared the history of the Sugarbush with the UW-Platteville campus community on March 8, 2023 in the Nohr Gallery and on the Platte Mound.

Greendeer’s lecture covered the connection of dietary health, mental health, physical health and cultural health in the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Later in the day on the Mound, he talked about the history of sugarbush ceremonies.

Dr. Eugene Tesdhal, Associate Professor of History at UW- Platteville, said in regards to the lecture, “(Greendeer) also offered a ceremony to open the UW- Platteville maple sugar camp on the Platte Mound later that day. Greendeer is currently Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Ho-Chunk Nation where he helps fellow citizens of this nation take control of their nutrition and living.”

Greendeer prefaced the ceremony by walking attendees through the history and personal stories of beginning the Sugarbush and began the ceremony by lighting a fire.

He described the importance of tobacco, grown by the Nation, being offered to the fire. The tobacco represented the way that participants should not take all that the Creator gives to them, but rather to recognize that we must only take what we need and give the rest back to our world.

Tesdhal explained how those that attended learned the relationship “between people and the land” when gathering maple syrup. “Amplifying Jon Greendeer’s voice reminds our students that Indigenous ways of knowing are as valid as printed textbooks when examining relationships between people and the environment,” Tesdhal said.

This is the second year that the Sugarbush ceremony has been held at UW-Platteville. The event brings awareness of years of tradition of Ho-Chunk people and the maple trees in Wisconsin.