Iwígara, the Kinship of Plants and People: American Indian Ethnobotanical Traditions and Science

Enrique Salmón. Timber, $34.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-6046-9880-0
Salmón (Eating the Landscape), head of California State University East Bay’s Indian Studies program, provides a beautifully illustrated and philosophically uplifting guide to indigenous North American plant use. For background, Salmón delves into the spiritual beliefs of various cultures, including the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico and Arizona; the Cherokee, who once inhabited southeastern marshes; and his own people, the Rarámuri of Chihuahua, Mexico, originators of the “iwígara” concept “that all life, spiritual and physical, is interconnected in a continual cycle.” The bulk of the text consists of a glossary of plants’ traditional medicinal and ceremonial purposes. A particular highlight of this section consists of the perhaps surprising uses introduced for familiar species. The blueberry is a fine example of this, having been used to treat colic, fever, and varicose veins, and to improve night vision. Likewise, sugar maple trees can be used for more than syrup; their inner bark can also be used for “sore eyes and as a cough remedy.” Salmón includes vintage botanical drawings, b&w historical photos of the people from the cultures discussed, and color photos of the plants. This lovely compendium will strike a chord with many a nature-loving reader. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/01/2020
Release date: 09/15/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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