The late Barbara Joe of Alakanuk and Maryann Andrews of Emmonak shared the following advice during a gathering of women from the Lower Yukon in April 2012. These translations are by Alice Rearden, who also attended the gathering. We are grateful for what these women shared. Quyana! – Ann Fienup-Riordan
Yungcautnguuq nunam qainga tamarmi/The entire surface of the land is medicine
Arnaucuaq/Barbara Joe: Naunranek kiagmi cumerrluteng. Naunraat taugaam neqekluki. Up’nerkami iitarnek, iitarnek nerengnaurtukut, aanavut iitarcurnaurtuq. Tua llu makut greens at ataam naungata…
They would gather plants in the summer. Plants were their foods. In the spring, we’d start eating iitat [lower part of tall cotton grass], our mother would go and gather iitat. Then when these greens grew, again…
Ellaita yungcautekellrit. Quagcit llu makut, cali quagcit gguq tua-i, itumqurluki akutauluteng assiqapigtut.
Ones that they used as medicine. And these quagcit [sour dock], they say sour dock also, they cut them into pieces, and they are extremely tasty made into akutaq.
Assiqapiggluteng. Tamakut naunraat wangkuta nangteqsuitevkallruitkut.
They are very delicious. Those plants prevented us from being ill.
Cali atsat uksumi angpartaqamegteki qusraqamta atsat juice aitnek unuakumi mercetnauraitkut. Caaskaq-llu muirpek’naku meq’ercetnauraitkut atsat egenritnek. Tamaa-i gguq tamakut yungcautnguut. Tamakut yungcautekngamegteki qaimeggnun, vitamin aliata, tamakut gguq, maa-i nutaan taringlaranka, naunraat -gguq tamakut neqkellrat kayunarquq vitamin alirlaata.
Also, when they would open up salmonberries in winter, when we’d have colds, they would have us drink berry juice in the morning. And not filling the cup full, they would let us drink a small amount of berry juice. They say those are medicine. Since those things were medicine to their bodies, since they have many vitamins, they say those ones, today I’ve come to understand what they’re like, they say eating those berries makes one strong since they have many vitamins.
Maa-i wangkurlumta maa-i tamakut neqkenriamteki kayuirucugtukut anglicautelput imutun wangkutnek aqvauqurciigaliamta.
Today, we poor things today, since we no longer eat those things we were raised on, we tend to get weak because we cannot go and get them ourselves.
Iitarnek tua-i nerevkarnauraitkut. Naunraat-llu pic’ata tua-i naunraat enrillratnun cali neqekluki. Atsanek-llu ataam piurcata quagcit-llu, quagcinek cali neqengqercelluta. Tua-i-ll’ atsauciameng, napartamun atsanek, napartaq imirnauraat atsanek. Tamakut taugken quagcit cuyaitnek kipullguq’uurluki patuluki. Uquggluyuunateng-llu.
They would let us eat iitat. And when plants grew, they would eat plants until they became hard. And when salmonberries were ready as well as sour dock, they also had us eat sour dock. And when they had picked a lot of salmonberries, they would fill a barrel with salmonberries. But the leaves of sour dock, they placed the sour dock leaves opposite each other and covered them [with berries]. And [the berries] never became moldy.
Anglicautelteng, anguqallruaput ilaitni maani tamakut. Tamakut-gguq neqaita nangteqvakarcecuitellruit. Tua-i neqet anglicautelteng tamakut neqkurluki teggenrurtetuluteng.
Those things they raised us on, some of us happened to catch those things. They say their foods prevented them from becoming ill all the time. They continually ate their foods and became elderly.
Kapuukaraat-llu. Imkut arnaurluut-llu. Wangkuta arnaurlurtutullruukut. Nanvani cuyait tuarr’ imkut caiggluut, caiggluut tua-i cuyait nanvami. Tamakunek pissurnaurtukut.
And kapuukaraat [buttercups] also. And those arnaurluut [wild rhubarb]. We used to eat arnaurluut. In lakes, their leaves look like caiggluk [wormwood] leaves in lakes. We would gather those.
Nanirqun/Peter Black: Nasqupaguat-llu qaa?
Nasqupaguat [nutty saw-wort] also?
Arnaucuaq/Barbara Joe: Ii-i, nasqupaguat.
Yes, nutty saw-wort.
Tauyaaq/Maryann Andrews: Nasqupaguat imkut-llu aipait cali nasqupaguat, caneg’ ima piqerlaqait, mecuqelugat?
Nasqupaguat and the others like those nasqupaguat, what do they call them again, mecuqelugat [sea lovage]?
Arnaucuaq/Barbara Joe: Yaa, tamakunek neqengqerrluta. Ellaita yungcautekluki; neqeklallruamegteki egmiulluki neqketullruit, wangkutnun nerevkatullruit.
Yes, those were our foods. They used them to heal themselves; since those were their foods, they continued to have us eat them.
Atsat tua-i egenrit tan’gerpiit-llu egnengaqata iliikun qagertaqameng egnenglalriit; tamakut-llu egcuunaki. Wangkutnun tua-i nerevkaraqluki yungcautekevkarluki.
Salmonberry juice, and when crowberries would get juice, as you know sometimes when they pop, they get juice; they didn’t discard those either. They would have us eat them, they had us eat them for medicine.
Wangkuta cuyakegglit taugaam imkut orange-anek kangelget, tamakut qeltaitnek tamuaguraqercet’lallruitkut. Imkut cali nunapigmi ayut, ayut kangrit imkut mikcuaraat ayut kangrit tegg’urluteng, tamakunek cali nunapigmi cali tamuagurcetaqluta. Tamakut-llu gguq yungcautnguut ayut kangrit. Cali yuurqercetaqluta tamakunek.
For us, the cuyakegglit [diamond leaf willow] that have orange tops, they used to have us chew on the membranes of those for a while. And those ayut [Labrador tea] on the tundra also, the small tops of Labrador tea that are hard, they used to have us chew on those on the tundra for a while. They say the tops of Labrador tea are also medicine. They also had us drink that kind of tea.
Cali wangkuta young alriani maqiaqamta, maqivkarluta, ellaita maqisqelluta. Tua-llu maqirraarluta eleggluki. Maa-i church-amill’ aturlarait. Kinercirraarluki tamaku ayut eleggluki qaimtenun evcuarutekluki. Tua-i gguq essuircautnguut, assilriaruut. Qaivut-gguq wangkutnek ayunek piaqamteki caarrluput kataglaraput.
And when we young ones would take baths, they’d have us take baths, they’d tell us to take baths. And after taking baths, they would burn them. They also use them in church today. After drying those pieces of Labrador tea, they would burn them and shake them over our bodies. They say they are essuircautet [those used to cleanse and purify], they are good. They say when we [cleanse] our bodies with ayut, we lose our impurities.
Tauyaaq/Maryann Andrews: Ii-i, carrirluta.
Yes, we cleanse ourselves.
Arnaucuaq/Barbara Joe: Carrirluta, wangkutnek carrirluta.
We cleanse ourselves, we cleanse ourselves.
Assilriaruata. Assilriit taugaam feel-atuaput. Iliini-gguq taugaam yuum iliinek, qaill’ kiq tayima yuungami, feel-ayuitait-gguq ilaita yuut. Essuilkemeggnun-gguq taugaam, ca man’a tamarmi, essuilngurmun yugmun, feel-atua-gguq tamana essuilnguum yuum.
It’s because they are good. We only feel ones that are good. They say sometimes, some people, I’m not sure how they’re living to cause this, they say some people don’t feel them. They say only people they consider to be pure, everything [traditional medicine], on a person who is pure, they say only a person who is pure feels that.
Tauyaaq/Maryann Andrews: Yuilqumi, yuilquungermi camek pitangqertuq iinrumek.
In the wilderness, even though it’s wilderness, there are different kinds of medicine.
Arnaucuaq/Barbara Joe: Yaa, yungcautnguuq nunam qainga tamarmi.
Yes, the entire surface of the land is medicine.