Running an Indigenous focused herbal business is a fine balance of ethics, morals and culture while living in a colonial world of time constraints, profit margins, and simply trying to support my family. Within a world dominated by “foragers and wildcrafters” from all walks of life. I incorporate certain aspects of my culture into my practice as an act of reawakening what was once taken. Language, plant medicine teachings and traditional methods. I use our seven sacred teachings to guide what I do in a good way.
It’s important for Herbalists, to seek out their own family traditions to incorporate in their own practice in a good way. And to respect and be mindful that you are harvesting on Indigenous Lands if you live on Turtle Island.
I get asked often, but how do I find out my ancestry, and what plants they used?
You investigate your own genealogy. Ask family and do research. Find out exactly where your family originates from and then research what plants are specific to that region and how your ancestors, or people of that land used them.
For Indigenous people, our records where often burned, hidden and names changed. My genealogy is very similar. Jane Cree is one of my ancestors, but I know that is not her name. Labels of “Red-skin”, “Indian”, or “half breed” throughout our records, not our nation or their actual Cree, or Saulteaux names. Some of family was discharged from Treaty and given scrip so our records are all over the place and hard to decipher.
It takes time, patience, and humility to move forward in a good way.
Discovering your identity and your genealogy is not a marketing tactic. It’s not a label you can now add to your social media, as an expert in that culture. You are learning still, and always will be. So it’s important to move forward in a good way. Incorporate practices that align with your culture in your everyday life. When you bring it forward in your practice do so with humility and respect. Have respect for others of the same culture that you are not oversharing or offering things in a bad way, or to profit from a culture, without learning and respecting the teachings.
I am not an expert in Métis or Cree Culture, by any sense. I also acknowledge my non-Indigenous side, Danish and Norwegian and am learning about the plants that are native to those regions to use in practice. But a lot of what I do is focused on my Indigenous side. My Great Grandmother Boucher was a very big part of my life, and she is still my spirit guide today. My Great Grandfather Monkman was a Saulteaux Métis man who I have heard amazing stories of. Their daughter, My Grandma was not raised in her culture due to colonization, and it is our Generation to re-awaken these teachings and practice our culture. Therefore I incorporate some aspects of my culture into my practice. However, I practice my culture everyday throughout every aspect of my life, so it’s natural that my culture would spill over into my business. I listen to Elders. And I respect our natural laws, protocols, and teachings as sacred. And I do not teach or share what is not mine to share. Certain things need to be taught by Elders, and protocol offered, and I will always honor those teachings.
For non-Indigenous Herbal allies I have a few links available in my bio, on how to practice in a good way, starting with acknowledging who’s land you are on, and asking permission. I encourage you to search out your family history, what plants are native to your homelands, and how can you incorporate them into your life, and your practice. You may find a very special connection when you grow some of those plants in your own Medicine Garden.