Iroquois Medical Botany

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Syracuse University Press, Jan 1, 1997 - Health & Fitness - 292 pages
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The world view of the Iroquois League or Confederacy—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations—is based on a strong cosmological belief system. This is especially evident in Iroquois medical practices, which connect man to nature and the powerful forces in the supernatural realm. Iroquois Medical Botany is the first guide to understanding the use of herbal medi­cines in traditional Iroquois culture. It links Iroquois cosmology to cultural themes by showing the inherent spiritual power of plants and how the Iroquois traditionally have used and continue to use plants as remedies. After an introduction to the Iroquois doctrine of the cosmos, authors James Herrick and Dean Snow examine how ill health directly relates to the balance and subsequent dis­turbance of the forces in one’s life. They next turn to general perceptions of illness and the causes of imbalances, which can result in physical manifestations from birthmarks and toothaches to sunstroke and cancer. In all, they list close to 300 phenomena. Finally, the book enumerates specific plant regimens for various ailments with a major compilation from numerous Iroquois authorities and sources of more than 450 native names, uses, and preparations of plants.

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My great grandfather was a native American medicine man healer and I was hoping that this book would expand upon the knowledge passed down through my family for generations, but I did not find it useful at all. It fails to include pictures or common names of plants or even medicinal uses of the plants. It seems to be more about cultural myths then actual healing plants. 


Folk Conceptions of Health and Medicine
Conceptions of Illness in Traditional Iroquois Culture
Medical Treatments in Traditional Iroquois Culture
Powerful Medicinal Plants in Traditional Iroquois Culture
Native Names Uses and Preparations of Plants
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About the author (1997)

James W. Herrick lectures in anthropology, sociology, psychology, and gerontology, and studied under William N. Fenton. He and his family live in Chittenango, New York. Dean R. Snow is professor of Anthropology at the University at Albany, SUNY, where he has directed the Mohawk Valley Project. He is the author of The Archaeology of North America and co-author of Atlas of Ancient America.

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