Date of Award

August 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carolyn J Eichner

Second Advisor

Adele Perry

Committee Members

Margaret Noodin, Marcus Filippello


Food Studies, Gender Studies, Indigenous Studies


ABSTRACTOJIBWE WOMEN AND MAPLE SUGAR PRODUCTION IN ANISHINAABEWAKIING AND THE RED RIVER REGION, 1670-1873 by Susan Wade The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2021 Under the Supervision of Professor Carolyn Eichner and Professor Adele Perry Beginning with the origins of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670 and ending when the Canadian government signed Treaty 3 in 1873 with the Ojibwe in the Lake of the Woods region, this study is placed at the intersection of gender, kinship, imperialism, and food studies. This dissertation takes place in Anishinaabewakiing and the region the Northern Ojibwe migrated into, the Red River region. The landscape that makes up Great Lakes and Red River regions include the gendered places Ojibwe women occupied such as the maple sugar groves. Maple sugar played an important socio-economic role in Ojibwe culture. Food procurement in Ojibwe culture is gendered and it is Ojibwe women who produced maple sugar. Ojibwe women manufactured maple sugar for their communities and for the fur trade companies with whom the Ojibwe associated. The Ojibwe traded with other indigenous groups before European contact and they trade with other smaller fur trade companies and individuals, but the impact of trade can best be seen analyzing the records of three large companies that operated in the regions under investigation: the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), the North West Company (NWC), and the American Fur Company (AFC). Ojibwe women became increasingly instrumental in supplying food for the traders’ survival. This increased demand occurred not only because traders needed maple sugar at their posts as provision but also because fur companies needed it to expand their enterprise further west. For the AFC in the Great Lakes region, maple sugar grew from a local to a regional commodity. This Indigenous produced sugar was auctioned in Detroit, and Buffalo and along the route of the Erie Canal. For the HBC, maple sugar in the Red River region was shipped to various posts and helped the HBC reduce the overhead cost of cane sugar importation thus linking Indigenous women living in the interior of North America to the Atlantic trade economy. The political structures of settler colonialism gradually displaced Ojibwe women from the maple sugar marketplace. Great Lakes Nations’ land was taken over through the process of treaty making and settlement that was both gendered and patriarchal in nature. It was not just resources that were taken away, but also women-centered places where political activities, ceremonies, and teaching took place. In the United States, after treaty negotiations in the nineteenth century, cultural retention occurred in part because Ojibwe leaders negotiated for the rights to gather resources on ceded land also known as usufructuary rights. In the case of Indigenous nations in the numbered treaty regions, they had not ceded land or resources but fought against the Canadian government’s objective of land surrender.