American Indian Heritage Month

Health and Wellness

Kori Deibert, Faculty

November is National American Indian Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich histories, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of our nation’s first people. The Lenape were Philadelphia’s original inhabitants. They were hunters, fishers, and cultivated the area along the banks of what is now the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. They believed in a holistic healing approach, that connection with the spirits is what made healing so powerful. Most descendants of the Lenape now live in Oklahoma and still follow their ancient healing traditions. Several common plants with medicinal properties used by the Lenape that are found in the Northeast include birch, cattail, dandelion, sassafras, sumac, and wild grape.

  • Birch bark is used to make tea for treating coughs and colds.
  • Cattail pollen can be applied to wounds to stop bleeding. If ingested, it can help with menstrual pain. Mashing the cattail roots can be applied to treat blisters, boils, cysts, stings, and infections.
  • Dandelion is rich in vitamins and minerals that can be made into tea to treat the liver, cleanse the blood, and clear skin conditions. The plant also acts as a gentle laxative to help with digestion and elimination.
  • Sassafras root can help reduce blood pressure by acting as a blood thinner.
  • The white part of the sumac root can help treat a toothache or canker sore.
  • Wild grapes have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties for the heart. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, providing a laxative effect. The juice is rich in Vitamin C, E, iron, and niacin.

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