Traditionalist and Blackfeet Elder Anna BullShoe on Native Plants

By Shawn Davis, Climate Change Intern, Blackfeet Environmental Office

Anna BullShoe met with us and talked about the medicinal plants that the Blackfeet have used for millennia and how they are still being used today. She also talked about climate change and how it is affecting these native species of plants. When she was a young girl, plants like sweetgrass and peppermint were in abundance on the reservation, but due to climate change, these types of plants are dwindling. By her estimates, we have lost nearly 60% of the sweetgrass that previously grew on the reservation. She also mentioned that in the past, sweetgrass grew much taller and thicker, and that it is now losing the strong aroma it once had. Through a cultural lens, Ms. Bullshoe says that “We as Pikunii have lost our touch with the natural environment. We no longer pray for the well-being of these plants that are living beings”, and she attributes this to one of the reasons why we are seeing the decline in our medicinal and traditional plants.

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Bullshoe stressing the need to learn about the cultural and medicinal use of plants.
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