Native American Plant Remedies

The American Indians' harmony with the world around them is legendary. Nowhere was this harmony more evident than in their use of plants and shrubs, herbs and trees, to heal themselves of diseases and wounds.

When the settlers arrived in the New World, they soon learned from the Indians how to use common plants in their folk medicines. The Indians even taught them a few new uses for the medicinal plants the Colonists had brought with them from their native lands. In some cases, the Indians saved the lives of hundreds of white settlers, as when the Indian medicine man, "Joe Pye" (Zhopai) cured many of the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when they fell sick with typhus. Many of the Indian medicines were accepted into general practice by the white medical society, some being listed as official medical treatments up to recent times. One plant used extensively by the Indians, the mayapple, is now an ingredient in an accepted treatment for cancer--one of the diseases the Indians used it to treat over a hundred years ago!

This colorful exhibit of original paintings, drawings, pastels and watercolors displays some of the common wildflowers, weeds, trees and bushes used by native American Indians as effective cures. All of the works were done by artists living in the areas where the plants they draw are native. In addition to the beauty of the art work, the amazing uses of each plant are described in detail, providing viewers with a fascination history of the way Indian medicine has influenced our modern-day medical practices.