HoChunk Native Plants Prove Popular at Powwow

Nov 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 20-2: Native Green, Tribal College News

For two years (2007 and 2008), Little Priest Tribal College (LPTC, Winnebago, NE) has used the HoChunk Annual Veterans Powwow to educate people about ethnobotany. Natalie Davis says, “The youngsters especially enjoy tasting the spearmint tea, while the adults express a lot of interest in the practical uses of the various displayed plants.”

The HoChunk ethnobotany study is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES). Davis is the USDA-CSREES coordinator, and she has been employed at LPTC for eight years.

The college project staff together with researchers from Kansas State University offered both print material and samples of plants and their uses. Passers-by tried sips of a variety of teas made from local plants including: sage, purple coneflower, bee balm, and catnip. Others received seedlings at giveaways.

The annual activity is rewarding for everyone involved, according to Davis. She observed many people not only discussing the displayed plant items but also taking the flyers that describe and identify the plants by their HoChunk names and explain their traditional uses.

The LPTC ethnobotany project has significantly added to the college herbarium. Participants also built a greenhouse on campus. The project staff is assisting the Winnebago Tribe with developing its own herbarium.

For more information, contact Harry “Al” Martyn, science department chair at LPTC at (402)878-3343.

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