Wednesday, September 20, 2006

native american heritage

Been thinking about my maternal grandmother lately. She passed away when I was in the 10th grade... years ago. My grandmother was a little more than 1/2 Native American (Shawnee, which is recognized by the U.S. govt to be part of the Cherokee tribe - I think I told a blog friend of mine another tribe, but it is Shawnee). She had long hair that she tied in a bun behind her head every day and was a very emotionally strong woman. She smoked like crazy and even when she had a heart attack and her doctor told her to stop smoking, she didn't. She smoked up until the day she died.

I remember being young and visiting w/ my grandmother. She lived w/ one of my aunts and I used to go into her room and sit w/ her for hours when I'd go there to visit. She was always putting together huge puzzles on card tables and I loved to sit and try to figure out how to put the puzzles together w/ her. I remember she always had all sorts of musical instruments and games in her room. One of my favorite games that she had was chinese checkers. I remember she had a really nice banjo and I'd sit and try to play it, and she also had this really cool accordian... it was a difficult instrument to play but I always tried.

She was always so sweet to me. I wish she was around now so that I could get to know her better. My grandmother had all sorts of cures for things that the Indians used to use on people. Let me tell ya about one.

When I was in my teens, I had a bad problem w/ warts. They covered the area around my large toe on my right foot and were starting to go down the left side of my foot area. They were spreading like crazy and no matter what I used, I couldn't get them to go away. At one point, I even tried to pick them off which is the worst thing you could possibly do w/ warts because if they bleed, they spread. I also started getting them on my hands for obvious reasons. It was horrible and I hated it. It was really embarrassing too. I couldn't wear certain shoes, like sandals, because they'd bleed and hurt so so bad.

Well, one night I remember being at my aunt's house and my mom was there. I was sitting in the dining room w/ my mom and grandmother. My grandma saw the warts on my feet and hands and asked me to look at them, so I showed her the warts that were all over my foot. That night, my grandma took a dirty dish cloth, did something to it, rubbed in on my foot and hands and then later that night, from what my mom has told me, she buried it someplace outside.

I don't remember how long it was... but ALL of my warts went away. I want to say it was the next day, but looking back I don't think it was... but I know it wasn't any time at all. And.. believe it or not, I've NEVER had another wart since. No place, no where on my body.

This is a Native American thing that my grandmother did to me. I wish I knew more about it... I really do. I wish I had taken the time to talk to her about it. I'd love to know all of these things/secrets. My mother knows some of them but not a lot.

One of my aunts had warts all over her hands when she was a teenager as well. My grandmother did the same to her and they all went away. And you know, some ppl that I've told this to say it's all a matter of believing, but really, it's not about that. I know that because it wasn't like I knew what she was doing and really believed in it or anything. I had no idea. I just know that whatever she did, it worked and my warts went away.

Actually, I know somewhat about what she did that night. She took this old, dirty dish cloth and wiped in on my feet and hands. She said something and then late that night or on a full moon night, she buried it near something, in particular, I think. I'll have to ask my mom to be for sure... cuz I don't remember all the details.

I don't know about you... but I'd love to know about these things because I do believe in them. I wish I knew more about my Native American background/heritage. I only have a little of the blood in me... but, I still wish I knew more. You know, you'd never know by looking at me that I'm part Native American because I take after my father who is of British/Irish decent. But, if I look at pictures of my mom and then compare them to me, I will admit that I have her high cheekbones... which are very Native American... and I'm glad. :)


Olivia said...

Warts are stupid! i had a few growing up - on on my toe from the nasty swimming pool I used to go to with my school here in London. And one on my wrist from the nasty old writing desk I used at school - here again, in London.

Wow, I had no idea that burying in the backyard thingy could work!

My G-G-G Grandma Olave was the first woman doctor in Iceland, and she was a herbalist. I wish I knew more of what she did.

Speaking of your looks, my friend in Newfoundland, Canada, who comments on my blog as Jia Li, is part Miq'Maq (pronounced nothing like that), but is mostly English and very very pale!
But she has enough Miq'Maq in her to be admitted to the tribe and get a goverment grant for her studies!

Jane said...

Cool Grandma, Tooners. Hey, if you find out what she did please let us know. I had a few warts on my foot years ago and it took months to get rid of them. If I ever get them again I'd love to know a way to speed up the recovery.

Miss Carnivorous said...

My best friend growing up was half Sioux and half Irish. Everywhere we went people thought that she was whatever they were, Egyptian, Mexican, Italian. She was really beautiful. We went to Pow Wows for many years. A lot of the full blood indians would have kids by white and black guys. Many of the Indian kids had blonde and red hair. One lady had 2 girls about 2 years apart, one was half black, half indian and the other was half white, half indian. They were both beautiful and looked exactly alike but with different skin tones and the part white girl had green eyes. So native Americans come in many shades.

Miss Carnivorous said...

Hey Olivia I saw a cool story on Iceland that says they are in the forefront of artificial limb technology. They based the new and amazing artificial limbs on cheetah feet. Just some icelandic lore for you! I also heard about an inhaled diabetes medicine that is based on the stomach acid of a desert lizard we have here in the States. It is called a Gila Monster. So the herbal cures are as valuable as ever.

Puppy said...

Interesting post. And very interesing Grandma.

Never had warts, so far :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

The thing about native folk cures, such as those used by Native American tribes and the Chinese, is that they are the result of thousands of years of trial and error. That definitely counts for something. I don't think we should be so quick to dump such cures entirely in favor of recent technological research.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Great story and what a lovely grandmother.
We saw a video this week, called - I think - Archie Grey Owl - a true story about an English guy who lived as an American Indian for many years. Pierce Brosnan, of all people was the lead.
It raised an interesting point about identity - we are who we choose to be.

Chris in MB said...

It's a coincidence you're partly Shawnee. It's thought they originated from my area, around Lake Winnipeg (in central Canada) & migrated south east into what's now the US. Actually my wife is 1/2 Cree which is also part of the Algonquian group.

Hehehe, it's funny about the "looks". She lived in Germany for years & people thought she was Icelandic or Danish! She has blond hair & pale skin, yet has all the other features like the cheek bones, & "wide apart" eyes.

Do you hear any interesting food stories? I'm always hearing from my wife how her grandparents ate muskrats, moose tongue soup, & beaver tails. Everything is just boiled! blech! Then again bannock is good, but that's about it.

Chris in MB said...

ohh, I forgot the roasted deer hooves!

jahooni said...

how come Grandma never took the wart off of my hand that I had until I turned a teenager?!

I remember the chinese checkers and her coffee table in her room. I was so much younger and never really had the chance to know her. This has always made me sad.

I am very lucky to have my daughter grow up knowing all her grandparents.

tooners said...

i don't know of any recipes off the top of my head but i can ask my mom. i know that my mom and grandma used to eat weird stuff when i was growing up... one thing in particular was pickled pigs feet!!!! yep... no kidding. and believe it or not, i've tried them. makes me sick now to think about it... but i actually liked them when i was young.

Olivia said...

Miss Carnivorous - thanks for the interesting "lore" - I hadn't heard about them before.