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How the American Indians were sick and how were they treated?
How the American Indians were sick and how were they treated?

It is not easy to survive in the prairies and forests of North America. Before the arrival of Europeans, local peoples did not know the flu, smallpox and chickenpox, but they faced bacterial infections, wounds and the need to help women in labor. So they had to develop their medicine, despite the fact that they did not have too many opportunities for this.

In any incomprehensible situation - worry

Steam baths were popular with almost all the indigenous peoples of North America, including Mexico. Only if the Aztecs and their neighbors built separate premises for the baths, the nomadic hunters of the north had to get out. The Native Americans loved baths and used them not only for healing but also for energizing. Preparing the steam room, they sang sacred songs - like all traditional peoples, the Indians constantly "negotiated with the spirits", looking for their favor and complicity in their various affairs.

Except for any unusual circumstances, when it was necessary to be cunning and wise given how little materials were at hand, a separate tipi (or wigwam, in general, a portable house made of skins and poles) was placed under the bath. They tried to design it as airtight as possible so as not to lose the healing steam. The soil inside the tipi was laid out with small pebbles, ideally - smooth river pebbles. In some places, cedar or spruce and pine branches were laid on top of the pebbles to lie on them - they were considered very useful.

Bonfires were made near the bathhouse, around which pieces of granite were laid out. When the granite was very hot from the fire, its pieces, holding them wrapped around with rods, were brought into the bath and placed in the center, laying out a circle. The pebble bedding kept the granite from cooling too quickly. Often, fragrant medicinal herbs were laid out on pieces of granite, but this was not necessary and depended on the circumstances.

Artist Z.S. Liang

A sick person or a person who just decided to take a steam came inside, taking water with him, lifting the hot stones one by one by the braiding of the twigs and pouring water on them. As a result, the teepee turned into a real steam room. After sweating well, the "client" left the bathhouse to plunge into the river, if the water was not covered with ice, or to cool off in the wind. By the way, before visiting the bath, it was considered necessary to drink as much water as possible.

In other variants of using the bath, the grass was not placed on the stones and the water was not poured directly, but grass brooms were used to scoop up the water and dump it on the whole pile of heated stones. Of course, several people could use the bath at the same time, depending on the purpose for which it was arranged and what the size of the tipi was. There were real medical and religious for several days, when during the day they "prayed" over the patient and at night they soared.

In fact, the bath helped to raise the body temperature as much as possible without seriously damaging the person - from the heat, the bacteria that usually dominated the Native Americans died. Used it for colds, rheumatism, pneumonia. Subsequent cooling gave a short stress in contrast, mobilizing the strength of the body. Of course, sometimes they died in the bath - usually elderly people with a weakened cardiovascular system, but such a death was considered very good, because it took place in purity and with sacred songs.

The Ojibuei people are so accustomed to considering the steam room as an exclusive part of Native American culture that when they encountered Finns - whites using the sauna, they called them “steam room people,” highlighting what they thought was as unusual for Europeans as a cultural phenomenon.

Artist Z.S. Liang

Battle wounds

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Americans mostly suffered from battle wounds inflicted by barbed-tipped arrows. If such an arrow is hot or unknowingly pulled out of the wound, it will rupture the muscle fibers, and the wound will heal for a long time, difficult and with the possible danger of gangrene.Usually, the wounded tried to break or cut the shaft of the arrow so that it would not move the arrowhead.

The tip itself was taken out using a willow twig. The twig split lengthwise, and its halves were carefully inserted along the sides of the tip, covering the fabric from the chipping and turning into rails, along which the tip easily exited, it was worth pulling on the remains of the shaft. The most difficult part was precisely to pick up a very thin twig, split it successfully and insert it - this required skill, for which the wounded then thanked him with gifts.

After that, the wound was treated, covered with clean dry moss, into which dried medicinal herbs could be mixed. In some peoples, shamans and knowledgeable people recommended changing the moss as often as possible, while in others it was believed that the wound should not be disturbed.

Artist Z.S. Liang

At first, the bullet wounds were very frightening for the shamans and their patients. Both the dirt brought in by the bullet and the way it crumpled and ripped tissue led to the development of gangrene. In the struggle for the life of the wounded, the bullet hole was poured with boiling resin. This did not always save, and the torment from the procedure was monstrous.

Over time, shamans have developed such a wound treatment as pine oil. It was mixed with the yolks of bird eggs and poured into a wound previously washed with water. Suede strips were used as bandages.

As for dislocations knocked out of the place of vertebrae, fractures, stab and cut wounds, every boy and girl in North American tribes from an early age learned how to quickly provide assistance - to set a vertebra or joint, fix an injured limb or finger, close the wound and squeeze blood vessels. while you go to the shaman.

Artist Z.S. Liang

Each shaman has his own herb

There were often several shamans in one tribe, for a practical reason. It was not just a matter of allowing multiple people to treat wounds at the same time. Each shaman specialized in one or two diseases and kept the secret of what herb for the treatment of these diseases, how he prepares and prescribes. This made shamans non-fungible and guaranteed each of them not only a constant income, but also safety (otherwise, the relatives of deceased patients - and such inevitably accumulate - would take revenge). In addition, this forced the tribe to maintain a certain number of shamans, turning them into an authoritative, albeit small, group.

However, many herbs were used by warriors and women. Of course, what was used without shamans was that which did not require complex processing and precise dosage. So, the warriors carried with them dried grass to mix it with moss and cover wounds. Although in some tribes men were responsible for preventing pregnancy - they were required to have restraint so that children were not born too often, moreover, other warriors called for responsibility, in other peoples women themselves prepared herbal drinks so as not to become pregnant too often. Women, on the other hand, prepared teas that relieve pain and excessive blood loss during menstruation and improve lactation.

Herbs were not only used in the form of tea or soft lumps. The Navajo used the hard parts of dried herbs to groom their hair in the belief that it would keep it looking healthy. The herbs were ground into a paste, squeezed out of juices, dried and pounded. Certain herbs or leaves can and should be chewed raw.

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