Friday, November 8, 2013

George Ellison on the Edible, Utilitarian, and Religio-Medical Plants Used by the Cherokees

We closed our 2013 SAPS season meeting George and Ellison for dinner.  SAPS presented George with a elegant swish or rattle pot made by renowned Cherokee potter Joel Queen as a token of our appreciation.  We also presented Ellison signed photographs of our mailer to SuSu Davis and Joyce Hall.  We then went to the Macon County Library to hear a splendid program by George who spoke his wise and witty words to a standing room only crowd.

Ellison discussed the history, lore and legends of the Cherokee as well as the plants which impacted their lives.  He discussed ginseng, goldenseal, pokeweed, jack-in-the-pulpit, yellow lady's slipper, toothwort, spring beauty, fly poison, false hellebore, ramps, chicken in the woods, squaw-root, jewelweed, poison ivy, may-apple, pawpaw, dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, and St. John's wort among others. 

We were informed that the plants used to make the paints used for ceremonies and decoration were Yellow Root, Blood Root, Black Walnut and Chestnut.

He told us of the creation stories the Cherokees believed and passed down through the generations and many other interesting facts about the people who have provided this area with such a rich legacy.   George also read some of his poetry and prose.  Listening to his use of words is an emotional experience for Robert and many of the rest of us. 

One of the joys of being involved in the SAPS group is that we have been befriended by so many amazing and unique people.  What a great year we have had.  As an added note,  we began with 6 people and now our mailing list is up to 96.  Watch for our 2014 season announcement of even more exciting programs.

George Ellison reading 
Standing Room Only Audience

contributed by Bob Gilbert, Karen Lawrence and Kathy Stilwell