Aboriginal Students Health Sciences (ASHS) Elder in Residence Bertha Skye talks about various Indigenous medicines and cultural practices. This episode looks at the Birch tree.

The birch tree was of great importance to Native American peoples due to its tough, flexible, highly waterproof sheets of bark. Birchbark has been used by Native Americans for everything from papering the exteriors of canoes and houses to making baskets, artwork, and maps.

Ojibwe has it that birch trees are immune to lightning strikes, and that therefore these are good trees to take shelter under during a thunderstorm.

Birch trees are also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Birch Clans include the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, whose Birch Clan is named Nana or Nana-tdoa.

One of the most ancient and abundant of trees the birch tree was used for many things by Native American Peoples. The bark was used for writing or painting stories on. The sap was used both as a syrup and a beverage.

Teas and medicinal remedies were made from the bark and leaves of the birch. Placing the leaves of the birch tree on hot rocks in a sweat lodge creates a vapor that helps to cleanse the body and get rid of static electricity. To expel toxins the branches can be bound together and used to thrash the body while in a sweat lodge. Birch tea can be used to treat skin conditions, arthritis, rheumatism, kidney, bladder and digestive problems.


Responses to "Cree Elder Bertha Skye talks about Birch trees as Medicine "

  1. Unknown says:

    Thank you.

  2. Me says:

    I had back surgery recently. I have a tobacco poultice over the staples now for relief because it also acts as an analgesic as well as an anesthetic. Only I also crush an aspirin with the mix and add a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Pain relief is immediate, but the area will tend to itch for a couple/few days!

  3. Unknown says:

    Does this need to be boiled or just placed in water. And for how long? Thank you so much. I find these so interesting!

  4. Migwetch

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Does this work with all different kinds of birch trees. The ones that grow here seem whiter. :)

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