Ancient Tuscarora Remedies

Ancient Tuscarora Remedies


An American botanist, J. N. H. Hewitt, interviewed a Tuscarora medicine man in 1888, asking for some of his healing remedies. The following are from notes he made and are housed in the Bureau of American Ethnology.


Although we find the cures are an interesting look into the past, but we do not in any way endorse their use.

Tuscarora Love charm – The Northern Tree Frog  (Hyla versicolor), is used for this purpose. It is usual for one who wishes make a (indistinguishable) to catch one of these frogs and to fasten it securely to a small stick by cords of bark so that the little captive cannot by any means make his escape.

Then the stick, which is about 12 or 14 inches long, is stuck into the hole of an anthill in such a manner that the frog will not be more than two or three inches above the top of the nest.

Then, the person must flee from the place as rapidly as he can, for if he hears the frog utter into a cry of pain when the ants bite it he will surely become deaf or deranged.

Five or six days after the person returns to see whether or not the ants have eaten all the flesh from the bones of the frog. When the bones are entirely free from flesh the bones are taken away and pulverized. The power is then mixed with red paint (vermilion), which is used for painting the face.

It is said one who looks upon the face of one so painted swill immediately become infatuated with this person. But this acts more powerfully if a small quantity of it is put into the food or drink of the one to be influenced, and also equally well if a small portion of the powder is scattered on the person to be won.

Age of puberty – To the robust and powerful male a change of voice announces the age of puberty, but to the weak one, no such vocal change comes. During this period of several days in which the voice assumes its new volume and tone, the breath of one so affected being to noxious should not be inhaled, for it will produce blotches and pimples on the face of one who would inhale it.

If a healthy growing plant is held in the hand either of a male at the above mentioned period, or of a female or of a female at the first a subsequent appearances of her catamenial (menstrual periods) flow it will wither and die from the poisonous effluvia (a slight or invisible exhalation or vapour, especially one that is disagreeable or noxious) from the person.

For this reason, women during these constitutional periods were strictly secluded from the lodge for the purpose from all persons in which retreat they received and ate their food which was left at the door by some aged matron, a mother, aunt or other female relation.

At the age of puberty, the reputed occult powers of which craft or enchantment manifests themselves to their fullest extent and with the majority of persons these forces are lost with the departure of the first manifestation of puberty in both males and females.

Related Posts