WARNER — The Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum on Saturday is giving visitors a glimpse into how Northeast Native Americans first tapped into maple sugaring here.
A day of activities will include a sap boil on the side of the mountain, cooking demonstrations, a guided walks through Medicine Woods and the outdoor campus, and a tomahawk-throwing contest.
Maple Day at the Indian Museum was born out of the same desire that drives all their programs: to educate people on the lives and gifts of Native Americans, said Anastasia Glavas, the museum’s office manager.
The event has been popular in the past and, based on social media response, Glavas expects a good turnout on Saturday. People are not only eager for things to do in early spring, but kids haven’t gotten to experience the usual field trips during the pandemic.
“We’ll be here. It’s just a little more streamlined than before,” she said.
It’s a different perspective from celebrations at sugar houses across New Hampshire. This tradition starts with what Algonquins call the sugar maple — Sinsibuckwud — and a couple of legends about the origin of the word.
Some say that after a chief struck a maple branch with his axe, his wife collected the drippings and used it in boiling meat.
But another legend has it that the Algonquin people were spending too much time drinking pure maple out of the tree, making them soft and lazy. So a spirit figure named Nanabozho cast a spell on the maple trees and turned the sap watery, thus making it necessary to process the sap before it could be consumed.
The Warner museum will focus on how Native Americans made their maple syrup, going back to before recorded time and before Europeans came to these shores.
They used clay pots and outside fire pits to collect and boil the sap down to syrup, but the result is the same as modern harvesters with their tubing and fancy evaporators.
Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum canceled its Maple Day last year as the state issued shutdown orders, but the staff and trustees made the decision to go ahead with it this year with some modifications.
There will be some restrictions. While guests enjoyed sugar-on-snow and a Native version of pancakes in years past, the museum will not offer food or samples on Saturday.
But the museum and its gift shop will be open for the day, and maple syrup from a local farm will be available for purchase.
Maple Day runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 18 Highlawn Road. For more information, go to indianmuseum.org or call 456-2600.