by Ann Feinup-Riordan
In these difficult times, Calista Elders Council (CEC) would like to share some of the healing words that have been shared with us over the years. Recently, we have been working with old transcripts to learn what we can about the healing qualities of plants growing in the region. We thought that over the next months we would share what we are learning, plant by plant. We begin with qanganaruaq, also known as caiggluk and wormwood in English.
In September 2003, six elder experts met in Bethel at Pacifica Guest House to talk about plants. They included the late Paul John and Theresa Moses of Toksook Bay, Wassilie Evan of Akiak, and Tim and Marie Myers of Pilot Station. The transcriptions and translations were done by Alice Rearden. We hope you find their words as inspiring as we do.
Kangrilnguq/Paul John: Nunamteni caiggluugut. Unanill’ call’ Qipnermiut nuniitni Qanganartangqerran call’ caiggluuluteng. Iigmi-llu caigglugtangqerran naunerrluuluteng. Kuinerramill’ call’ naunerrlugnek ilaita pilarait caigglugtangqerran tamana. Maanill’ maa-i qanganaruarullilriit qanganartailan. Taukuuluki tua niitelaranka. Naunerrlugnek-ll’ tua pilaqait. Maani qanganaruanek niitelaranka pivkarluki. Kingunemni taugken tua caigglugnek.
In my village wormwood is called caiggluk. And down at Kipnuk, people also call them caiggluk since there is someone named Qanganaq [Squirrel] there. And since there’s someone named Caiggluk at Eek, [wormwood plants] are called Naunerrluk. At Quinhagak some also call them Naunerrluk because there is someone named Caiggluk there. And around here [in the Kuskokwim River area], these are probably called Qanganaruaq since there is no one named Qanganaq here. I have heard them being called those names. They also call them Naunerrluk. I have heard them being called Qanganaruaq here [in Bethel]. But in my village they are called caiggluk.
Waten ayucetun mermun piluki. Meq’aquurallrit ilaita assikait. Ukveqestemeggnill’ am tua-i nall’arusngaaqluteng. Tua-i ikayuugaqluteng. Usguniqlunill’ atam assirtut. Mecunglluki tua waten, usgunminun ellirraarluki nemerluki qavarluni-llu. Kelugka wii pilallragni pitullruunga tuaten. Ciisqugka ellivikraarluki nutaranek lumarrayagarmek-ll’ nemerluku qavarlua. Ikayuugaqluteng.
They put them in water like they do Labrador tea. Some people like taking a sip of it. The [medicine] works for those who believe that they work. It is helpful. They are good for joint pain, too. Wet them, place them on joints, bind them with bandages, and go to sleep. When my back was hurting I would do that. I would bind my knee with it and a piece of new fabric and go to sleep. It would be so helpful.
Uparquq/Timothy Myers: Ukut cali caiggluut atullrat amllerrsugnarqut. Wangkuta-ll’ caigglugnek pituaput nunamni uani. Cali naurrlugaqata makut kinercirraarluki qang’a-ll’ cat naurrluut naumaaqata, naugaqata, avutullratni kinercirraarluki ululriani waten cotton-aatun ayuqliqertetuut uum qanrutkellratun kinerciqerraarluki. Tua-i-llu tamakut naurrlugmun elliluku, piciatun maavet qaivnun elliluki. Unuaquan paqciiqan imna naurrluk, nucuutelliut naurrluum tamatum pianek. Tua-i-ll’ ataam ellivikekuvgu tamakunek patuluku.
I think there are many uses for caiggluut. We call them caiggluut in our village. When people have sores too, they dry those [pieces of caiggluut] after they pick them, and after drying them they soften them by rubbing them in a circular motion with the hands, and [the caiggluut] will become cotton like she mentioned, after drying them. [The caiggluut] is then put on the sore on the body. The next day when you check the sore, it draws out the pus along the sore. Then when you put more on, you cover it with that again.
Uumikuan paqciiqan imkut naurrluut ak’a tamallrulliut. Tuamta-llu maa-i pilartut nunamni makut maa-i steam-atgun maqiyaurcata. Imumun qaltaanun, mer’anun, ekluki qallaucelluki. Tuanlengraata tua ciqiciqiiluni. Assiqapiarluni cali ceq-llu cali tukniriqerrnganani. Caullrat makut amllertut. Waten cali waten nauyullratni neru’urluki, mecuit ig’aqluki cali piyaraugut makut.
If you check on it the next time, the sores will have already disappeared. In my village since they started taking steam baths, this is what they do. They put [wormwood leaves] in the container of boiling water that is used for pouring onto the rocks [in the steam bath] and let [the leaves] boil in it. Even if [the leaves] are in it, they pour the liquid onto the rocks. It is very good to use, and it seems like [a person] sweats more. These have many uses. These can also be used when they are newly grown by chewing on them and swallowing the saliva.
Luqipataaq/Marie Myers: Nalangraata-ll’ up’nerkami-ll’ ataam pilarait egaluki. Puqlamek kuvluki tua uucetun patuluki. Nalamang’ermeng-ll’ atuugut.
In the spring they are also cooked, even though they are dead. Hot water is poured over them, and they are covered like this. Even though they are dead plants, they are useful.
Kangrilnguq/Paul John: Augna avauqalliniaqa. Imutun aiparma-ll’ tua-i maqiaqamegnuk iliini ermigcuun uuqnarqellriamek imirraarluku mer’atnek tua-i ciqiaqluku.
I also forgot this a while ago. When my wife and I take a steam bath, she sometimes pours hot water in the basin after putting [caiggluk] in it, and she pours the water [with caiggluk] on the rocks.
Cali-llu taarritekluki patguarcuutekluki tememun tua-i. Atuullrat amllertuq. Ukveqlaamegteki ilait ikayuutekaqluku. Wagg’uq taarriluteng.
They also swat themselves on their backs or body with them. They have many uses. Since some people believe that they work, it helps them. They use them to swat themselves, taarriluteng as they say.
Misngalria/Wassillie Evan: Maa-i makut, man’a wa nunam qainga Ellam Yuanek taqumiimi, cat makut nunam qaingani ellmeggnek nauyuitut. Uum taugaam Ellamek pilillrem nauvkalarai. Tua-i-ll’-am maa-i nalakuneng, up’nerkaqan-llu tua-i, urukan urukarraarqan nuna tua-i tuar cakartaunani, nunam qainga tua tuqumalriatun ayuqluni tuar naunqiggngailnguut. Makut-llu cali napat tuar kinret. Ca tamarmi man’ nunam qainga, Agayutem-am, Ellam Yuan taqellrullinia unguvaluku.
Because Ellam Yua created the land, things on the land don’t grow by themselves. Only the one who created the world makes them grow. When [plants] die, and when it’s spring right after the snow melts, the land appears as though there is nothing on it, the land looks dead, and it seems like they would never grow again. And the trees look like dead, dried wood. God, Ellam Yua created everything living on the land.
Unguviimi-llu, canek atsairuqaarluni-llu tuaten taqellruani, atsairuqaarluni, atsat makut, atsalugpiat-llu maa-i makut tangrruurraarluteng igtelalriit tua-i piunrillerkarteng limit-aarteng tekitaqan. Cali am pinarikuneng, cat allat nunam, nunapiim qaingani naugiluteng leaves-aarit naugiarkat. Ilumun tua-i tuaten naugivkarluki Ellam uum Yuan naugivarluki cat. Tamana pitekluku, ellmegnek naunrit’laata.
And since [the land] is alive, because it was created that way, after there were no longer any berries on it, and even these salmonberries, after they are seen, they fall when they have reached their time to wilt, their limit. When their time comes, other things on the tundra that grow leaves start growing. It is true, Ellam Yua makes everything grow. Because of that they don’t grow by themselves.
Ilanaq/Theresa Moses: Makut-llu niicuitellruanka. Maa-i wangkuta pituaput pellukutait tumagliit. Uitaviit. Ilaita anerniqnaitniluki pilarait. Ikayuuniluki anernemeggnun. Wiinga anernemnek pitullemni iinruyuitellruunga tua cat iinruaqetuutet nalluluki, kiingan man’a.
I never heard of these. We call this part of the low-bush cranberries pellukutait [their leaves]. These are where they grow. Some people say that they prevent asthma. They say that it helps them with their breathing. When I used to have problems with my breathing I never took any medications not knowing about the medicines, only this one.
Cali qasgimun kuvuurutiinun ilakluki qallangutevkarluki kuvelriani tuar ilumun Vicks-aaq man’a-llu Vicks-aacetun qanrem cenii ayuqluni. Man’ yuuryiullra-llu call’ qamna pivigturiqerrnganani. Makut Vicks-aacetun ayuqluteng.
And when adding it to water that is poured [on rocks] in the steam bath and boiling it and spilling it, [the water] would smell just like Vicks that is around the mouth. And it feels like when you breathe, there’s more room [in the lungs], too. These are like Vicks.
Quyana! Ann Fienup Riordan is an Anthropologist and Alice Rearden is an Oral Historian for the Calista Elders Council.