The Old Woman and the Maple Tree Spirit

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

There lived an old woman by herself in an oval lodge at the outskirts of the village. She was always doing good for the people. If anyone needed anything from her, she would not fail to give it to them. She always fasted and made offerings of tobacco to the spirits.

Now the time had come when sap was collected from the maples, and she went out with her bucket to see what she might obtain. She went from one tree to another, yet she hardly collected anything. As she was walking along in the forest, she heard a voice. She looked around, but could see no one. Again the voice spoke to her, and she discovered that the voice had come from the trunk of a maple tree. "Grandmother, I take pity on you. Come back to me tomorrow and you will find on my trunk a ball of sap. Take this sap and rub it around the inside rim of your sap boiling kettle. However much sap you have put in, that much will expand to the place you have scored. And when you make maple syrup, if you can remember me with a small offering of tobacco, you will be blessed." Thus the Tree Spirit spoke to her. So the next day she retrieved a ball of sap from the tree, and did as the spirit had bidden. Indeed, no matter how little sap she put in the kettle, it would always boil up to the mark she had made on the rim. She never wanted for maple syrup. Thus had she been blessed.1

Commentary. ...

Links: Tree Spirits.

Stories: mentioning trees or Tree Spirits: The Creation of the World, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Visit of the Wood Spirit, The Man Who Lost His Children to a Wood Spirit, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, The Pointing Man, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Loses His Meal, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 2), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Blessing of the Bow, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Spirit of Gambling, Peace of Mind Regained, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, The Story of the Medicine Rite.

Themes: trees talk to people and give them advice: Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, The Children of the Sun, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I.


1 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Indian Fireside Tales: Ka Gwe Do Say ... Sunrise Walker, Wisconsin Folklore Society Booklets (Madison: 1947) 36-37.