Cherokee - Medicine of Plants
Once, in the beginning... animals and people lived together in harmony and talked with each other. However, when mankind began to increase at a rapid pace, the animals were pushed and crowded into forests and deserts. Man began to kill four-footed's for their skins and furs, not just for food that was much needed. The animals... angry at such treatment by those whom they had befriended... decided they must punish such a greedy mankind.
The Bear tribe met in council. This was led by Chief Old White Bear. After many Bears had spoken against humankind and their bloody ways, war was agreed upon. But what kind of weapons would the Bears use? Chief Old White Bear suggested that the human's weapon, the bow and arrow, should be used against him. The council all agreed. While the Bears worked and made bows and arrows, they wondered what to use for bowstrings. One of the Bears sacrificed himself to provide the strings. The other Bears searched for wood that would be good for arrows.. When the first bow was finished and tried out, it was discovered that the Bear's claws could not release the strings to shoot the arrow. One Bear offered to cut his claws, but Chief Old White Bear would not let him to do that. Without claws he could not climb trees for food or safety. This might lead to the Bear's death.
The Deer tribe called together it's council. Led by Chief Little Deer... it was decided that any Indian hunters, who killed Deer without asking forgiveness in a proper manner, would be punished with painful rheumatism in their joints.
After this was decided, Chief Little Deer sent a messenger to their nearest neighbors... the Cherokee. "From now on, your hunters must first offer a prayer to the deer before taking him," stated the messenger. "You must ask his forgiveness and state you are forced only by the needs of your tribe to kill the deer. Otherwise, a terrible disease will come to the hunter." When Deer is slain by an Indian hunter, Chief Little Deer will go to the place and ask the slain deer's spirit, "Did you hear the hunter's prayer for forgiveness?" If the reply is yes, then all is well and Chief Little Deer returns to his home. But... if the answer is no, then the Chief tracks the hunter and strikes him with the terrible disease of rheumatism and makes him a helpless cripple who will be unable to ever hunt again."
Then... the finned-ones and reptiles held their council and it was decided they would haunt those Cherokee who tortured them. They did this by sending horrible dreams of snakes twisting around them and eating them alive. These snake and fish dreams occurred very often amongst the Cherokees. To obtain relief, the Cherokee pleaded with their Shaman to make the frightening dreams go away. It was promised the dreams would go if they no longer brought misery to the snakes and fish.
Now... when the plants heard what the animals had decided to do against humans, they decided on a plan of their own. Every tree, bush, herb, grass, and moss agreed to provide a cure for each one of the diseases named by the four-footed, finned-ones, reptiles and insects. From then on... whenever any Cherokee visited the Shaman about their problems... the cure was there...and... if the medicine man was not sure... he communicated with the plant - spirits and asked. They always suggested a correct cure for mankind's diseases. This was the start of plant medicine from Mother Earth among the Cherokee Nation a very long time ago.
From the Archives of Blue Panther