From Cherokee Nation newsletter

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    vance hawkins

    The following ws from the Cherokee Nation Newsletter — I thought some people might be interested in it. The newsletter often has interesting information in it.

    I am putting it her because plants that grew in Cheroke Country also grew in Va and other parts of NC where Eastern Siouan people lived, and they probably used them the same way the Cherokee did.

    Normally I am skeptical of reports of how herbs were used, but since this information was given out by the Cherokee Nation itself, well, why not share it?


    These are more familiar in Cherokee country. As always, remember that these plants are very valuable as medicines because of the great chemical powers they contain. At the same time, these chemicals can be potentially dangerous if used in the wrong way. Cherokee herbalists have great experience, and have gone through extensive training and observation. Novice herbal practitioners are advised to seek out and develop a close relationship with Cherokee herbalists or their elders to learn how

    to use these medicines properly.

    Qua lo ga (Sumac)

    All parts of the common sumac have a medicinal use. Mild decoctions from the bark can be used as a gargle for sore throats, and may be taken for a remedy for diarrhea. A tea from the leaves and berries also reduces fevers. Fresh bruised leaves and ripe berries are made into a poultice which soothes poison ivy. A drink from the ripened or dried berries makes a pleasant beverage which is a good source of vitamin C.

    Big Stretch, or Nuyigala dinadanesgi utana (Wild Ginger)

    The Cherokee commonly recommend a mild tea of this herb, made from the rootstock which is a mild stimulant for the digestive system. It can also help colic, intestinal gas, or the common upset stomach. A strong, hot infusion of the roots can act as

    an expectorant in eliminating mucus from the lungs. Fresh wild ginger may be substituted for the regular store-bought ginger roots as a spice for cooking.

    What Rabbits Eat, or Jisdu unigisdi (Wild Rose)

    The ripe fruit of the Wild Rose is a rich source of Vitamin C, and is a reliable preventative and cure for the common cold. The tea from the hips is a mild diuretic, and stimulates the bladder and kidneys. When the infusion of the petals is used, it is an ancient remedy for sore throats. Cherokee healers recommend a decoction of the roots for diarrhea.

    Squirrel Tail, or Saloli gatoga (Yarrow)

    Yarrow has many uses. The best known use is to stop excess bleeding. Freshly crushed leaves can be applied to open wounds or cuts, and the properties of the herb will cause the blood to clot. A fresh juice of yarrow, diluted with spring or distilled water, can held internal bleeding such as stomach and intestinal disorders.

    The leaves, prepared as a tea, is believed to stimulate intestinal functions and aid in digestion. It also helps the flow of the kidneys, as well as the gallbladder. A decoction made of the leaves and stems acts as an astringent, and is a wonderful

    wash for all kinds of skin problems such as acne, chapped hands, and other irritations.

    Looks Like Coffee, or Kawi Iyusdi (Yellow Dock)

    This plant is not only a medicinal herb, but also a food. It is much like spinach, but believe it or not, contains MORE vitamins and minerals. Because of the long taproot, it gathers nutrients from deep underground. The leaves are a source of iron, and also have laxative properties. Juices from the stems, prepared in a decoction, can be made into an ointment with beeswax and olive oil, and used for itching, minor sores, diaper rash, and other irritations. Cherokee herbalists prescribe a warm wash made from the decoction of crushed roots for a disinfectant. Juice from the root, not prepared in any certain way, is said to be a cure for ringworm.


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    Interesting. Made me want to learn how to identify these plants. I wonder what’s growing in the woods around me. One nice thing about living in a real forest ecosystem, things are in balance. There’s always water standing in the driveway pipe, and I expected to have a problem with mosquitoes, but there are hardly any. There are too many tadpoles and dragonflies around eating the larvae for that.. It’s only in my basement, where it’s an unnatural environment, that I have an explosion of centipedes. I have no idea what they’re living on to be reproducing the way they are.


    See subject below- Thanks !


    I have some yellow yarrow in my front yard (reminds me of mint family). Also, sweet gum tree – My mom said that they would cut a chunk out of the tree to let the sap run out and harden (months) and then they would break it off and chew on it.

    My mom, dad and I are working on other things with the herbs, I need to write them all down with identification. They know so much so, this is a work in progress.

    Good News: I believe that I have found the river cane that Tom was speaking about for the baskets. I will have to ask other people in my town (older persons) before I have conformation on this but, I am going to show Linda and the location.

    I am sooo excited!!!


    Thank you a lot Vance,

    herbal & edible wild plants have always been a fascination of mine. Though I stay away from any of those fungi things! Wild rose is so plentiful here along the stream banks. Yarrow grows wild all around the house, though I haven’t used it. Curley Dock, as my mom called it, grows all over here as well. Years ago when we lived out near Castle Rock, when I first started getting into this hobby, my son Carl and I cooked us up some Curly Dock. We boiled it like spinach and put salt & pepper & butter all over it. It was good, though not AS good as spinach. We had fun and it made for one of those wonderful, forever memories. Carl was scared to eat it at first. He was so cute! Although, I should ad that eating too much of it can clean out the plumbing, so to speak 😉 ! Mom always said sumac was poisonous???? So, I stear clear of that as well. Love & Light, Lynella.

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