Native Americans were the first to discover the art of making maple syrup. According to Iroquois legend, the Chief Woksis was going hunting one day in early March. He removed his tomahawk from the tree were he had hurled it the night before and went off for the day. The weather turned warm and sap poured from the gash in the tree, conveniently gathering in a vessel that had been left near the base of the tree. That evening, Woksis' squaw needed water to fix their dinner. Seeing the vessel filled with sap, and recognizing that it's use could save her a trip to fetch water, she decided to use it for cooking water. The water boiled down to syrup, sweetening their meal with maple. So, says the legend, was the discovery of maple syrup. Early settlers learned the practice and making maple syrup has been a New England tradition for many generations.
(Source: The Maple Sugar Book by Helen and Scott Nearing, Galahad, 1950.)