Medicinal walk with Karen

by John Murvin Vicaire
November 12, 2015

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day in November than the one we got last Tuesday. It was nice and sunny and unusually warm. This was the fourth time that Karen has made her way up from Maine to share her knowledge with us, but it’s still just the beginning of our learning journey.

The day began by meeting with Karen in Ugpi’ganjig (Eel River Bar). Before setting out on the field in search of aquatic medicines, she showed us some of the medicinal plants she had previously collected with the help of a local community member.

It was amazing to see all the different types of plants being dried or soaking in alcohol to be used as tinctures. These are plants which under different circumstances one wouldn’t think much of. Most of the time we call them weeds, not caring enough even to learn their name.

But the fact is, each plant does have a purpose. We are able to see that each time Karen joins us and teaches us something new about various medicinal plants. She has shown us how tamarack can be used as a lotion, and how we can make mint salve to help with colds and congestion. She has shown us how cow parsnip (be careful, parts of plant can burn your skin) can be used to treat shingles. She has taught us the different uses of bladder wrack, cattail root, and many others.

A word of caution though, have someone knowledgeable with you if you plan on picking medicines. Certain plants are best picked during a particular time in the season, and must be prepared in certain ways.

It’s always a great time heading out on the field with Karen, she fills you with knowledge and opens up a world to you only known by a few.

As we look forward to our next meeting with Karen, we say “ap nemult’s”, which means “I’ll see you again”, for in the Mi’gmaw language we don’t say “goodbye”.