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A FEW HERBS AND A LOT OF INSTRUCTIONS

From Healing Plants: Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians, a book by Alice Micco Snow and Susan Enns Stans.

Snow, who was born in 1922 and lives on the Brighton Reservation near Lake Okeechobee, is an herbalist for the Seminoles. Stans is an assistant professor of anthropology at Florida Gulf CoastUniversity in Fort Myers.

This excerpt is based on Stans' field notes of a visit by Snow to an Indian doctor after surgery on her knee. The words in italics are in the Creek Indian language.

_ BILL DURYEA, Times staff writer

Alice took bay (tolv), ice plant (hetotvpe), ginseng (heles-hvtke) and willow (akwanv) to a doctor. The doctor's daughter acted as an intermediary, asking Alice what she wanted. She was getting two medicines: one to heal her knee following replacement surgery and the other for a sharp pain that she sometimes felt in her leg when she moved it. Speaking in Mikasuki, she said she had one operation and the knee got infected again. She was reoperated on and had to go to a nursing home for five weeks. The knee didn't heal well. Another Indian doctor treated her once after surgery on her other knee, and it didn't work. The other doctor had treated the knee with hot medicine. After speaking to her father, the daughter said it would not heal fast enough unless he treated it with cool medicine.

He prepared the medicine in the back room while we waited. . . . Although we could not hear him, the Indian doctor sang the songs and blew in the medicine, which gave the treatment its healing properties. After about an hour, the daughter brought Alice the medicine with the instructions from the Indian doctor. She was to follow this prescription: During the first four days of using the cool medicine, she was to have no hot stuff, like coffee, unless it was lukewarm. She must not leave the coolness of the house and go out in the hot sun. She could drive or ride in a car the day after taking the medicine. She had to stay inside until then.

For the pain, she was not to eat meat from four-legged animals if the bones were cooked with it. If the meat was removed from the bone before cooking, she could have beef or pork. She could eat chicken or fish. Alice said, "It is hard to go out and eat when a person is on Indian medicine."

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