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Powerful Properties of Plants in the North Country

Episode hosts

Fallon Lynn
Episode Guest: Sateiokwen Bucktooth

    Did you know wild parsnips can burn your skin when exposed to the sun? That raspberries can relieve your menstrual cramps? That motherwort can help with your digestive problems? Listen in to learn the powerful properties of plants found here in the North Country as Satieokwen Bucktooth, owner and founder of Snipe Clan Botanicals, takes us through her own backyard.

    Episode transcript

    Fallon: (00:08)

    Hi, I’m Fallon, Summer Naturalist with Nature Up North: where we strive to educate, immerse and connect our community with the greater north country; whether that be through canoe paddles, monitoring our waters, or learning more about the land we live on from our neighbors. 


    I met with Satieokwen Bucktooth, owner and founder of Snipe Clan Botanicals, located in the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, to learn more about what our shared environment offers to us, as she taught me different ways we can and should give back to the land we call home.


    Growing up, during her warm months off, she worked with youth in summer programs. After high school, she was a childcare provider and construction worker before she began attending Syracuse University where she received her bachelor's degree. She even served in a position of promotions, although not a smoker for a few different cigarette companies. She worked as an apprentice over the course of four years through the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration program where she did Traditional Medicine and healing also where she found her love for working with plants.


    Fallon: (01:43)

    Perfect, perfect. Thank you.


    Sateiokwen: (01:46)

    And then you can move it closer if you need to.


    Speaker 3: (01:48)

    Great. I think this is fine if we set this here. So if you wouldn't mind your name and your job title. 



    I am Sateiokwen Bucktooth and I'm the owner and founder of Snipe Clan Botanicals. 



    Alright. So could you please describe your career progression and the story it tells about you? 



    My career progression, um, well I did traditional medicine and healing for four years and that's really where I got my start working with plants.


    Fallon: (02:25)

    But her job entails a lot more than just that.


    Sateiokwen: (02:28)

    I do a little bit of everything. It's almost like where plant, environment, health and culture collide. It was funny. Sometimes I feel like it's too much, but then they all overlap and connect in some way. And even the people that I work with, everybody has kind of worked with one another at some point for different projects. 


    Fallon: (02:50)

    For four years her apprenticeship guided and challenged her. It also inspired her.


    Sateiokwen: (02:57)

    After the ACR Program ended and I had learned so much about, um, plants and the language and my culture because with the traditional medicine and healing, it wasn't just, you know, how do medicinal plants help us and our relationship to them, it was also the healing, which had a lot to do with our, our history, our stories, our cycle of ceremonies, um, all all kinds of different things. And I worked really hard learning all of that. And I didn't want to leave there, apply for a job somewhere where I would only be able to utilize one or two of those skills 'cause I felt they were all very important. So I started my own business so that I could have more control over the projects and types of things that I was working on and who I was working with.


    Speaker 1: (03:55)

    In the storefront world, working from plant to bottle is a very lengthy process.


    Speaker 2: (04:02)

    Well, from plant it's almost, you know, you have to be able to be comfortable enough with working with the plant and that comes with a lot of, um, time and reading and doing. Learning that this is Yarro and not Queen Anne’s Lace or Poison Hemlocks. So being able to identify the differences and being confident that you picked the right plant and the exactly what you're looking for. 'Cause you do not wanna make anybody sick. You wanna make sure you're picking from clean areas. 'Cause as I mentioned, we have highly contaminated areas around here. So being aware and avoiding those areas. Um, and then I always encourage people to be respectful and, um, reciprocity is also very important. So putting down an offering of some kind, um, tobacco’s what we traditionally use, but I've heard everything from buttons to, to nickels have been used, you know, as long as you're giving something to the plant because the plant's giving up its life to help you. So there has to be some sort of give and take and reciprocity involved. And then also being, um, expressing your gratitude and how grateful you are. So talking with the plant, all of that kind of helps build the connection too. And then once you have your plant, you can either dry it or use it fresh depending on the type of plant that it is. Some cannot be used fresh because they, you know, they need to be dried in order for some type of chemical compound to break down and dissipate. And if you use it fresh, it can cause you know, different, you know, liver issues or kidney issues, things like that. So being very aware of what you're picking and how you're using it. Um, so drying, you can either use a dehydrator or, um, hang it somewhere dry and doesn't get a lot of sunlight. Um, for teas, most of them need to be dry. And then I blend them together based off of what the individual needs and whether or not there's something really bitter in there. Then I'll add something to offset that bitterness with some flavorful like lemon balm, mints, camomiles, which also have a lot of medicinal properties as well. Or if it's a tincture, tinctures require a high proof alcohol, like a hundred proof vodka, for example, as a substitute, if you don't want to have any alcohol involved, um, it does kind of, um, change the, what, what is being extracted from the plant. So it does have slight differences, but most often it's not, you know, make you choose one or the other. 

    Fallon: (06:50)

    Right, right. 


    Sateiokwen: (06:51)

    Um, so yeah, and then bottling up, straining things out, making sure I have the correct bottles, uh, ink, getting my labels designed and printed and everything put on the bottles or bags and filled up and weighed and, and then calculating prices. So it's, it's, it's a lengthy to-do list in order from plant toshelf. So I do a little bit of everything. It's almost like where plants, environment, health and culture, like collide . Yeah. Or converge. I don't know what the right word would be. Right. Lately it feels like a collision, but I guess it's where you converge .


    Fallon: (07:38)

    That's great. Yeah, no, it seems like you cover a lot of bases . Wow.


    Sateiokwen: (07:43)

    Yeah. Yeah. So, and it, it was funny. Sometimes I feel like it's too much, but then they all overlap and connect in some way. And even the people that I work with, everybody has kind of worked with one another at some point for different projects, so.


    Fallon: (07:58)

    That's cool.


    Speaker 2: (07:59)

    Yeah, it's definitely full circle.


    Fallon: (08:02)

    Full Circle, all connected. That's awesome. All right, well my next question for you is how did you get started with Snipe Clan Botanicals?


    Speaker 2: (08:12)

    After the ACR program ended and I had learned so much about, uh, plants and the language and my culture because with the traditional medicine and healing, it wasn't just, you know, how do medicinal plants help us and our relationship to them. It was also the healing, which had a lot to do with our, our history, our stories, our cycle of ceremonies, um, all all kinds of different things. And I didn't want to leave there, apply for a job somewhere where I would only be able to utilize one or two of those skills, because I felt they were all very important. So I started my own business so that I could have more control over the projects and types of things that I was working on and who I was working with. 


    Fallon (09:06)

    Awesome. What kind of skills are those exactly? 


    Sateiokwen: (9:10)

    So a lot of what I do, well the cultural restoration program started because of some of the contamination that was done up river and up wind of us. So it contaminated our waters,the soil, the air. And so because we, um, had all the, that high contamination, a lot of people stopped doing the activities tied to the land. So a lot of people stopped hunting and fishing, they stopped gardening, they stopped gathering the medicines because there was a fear that what we were gathering and what we were eating was making us sick because of the PCBs and mercury and fluoride in um, a lot of the things that we would traditionally consume. And so the ACR program started up in order to revitalize those activities and that language because when we stopped doing those activities, we stopped utilizing the language that went along with those activities. And we also stopped passing down that knowledge to the future generations. So there's almost a generational gap of people who, whose parents knew all those things, did all those activities and they kind of remember it when they're little, but then they stopped because of the contamination. And then so they don't have that knowledge and they don't have the language. But there's a new generation that is coming up who is very interested in learning and there's more opportunities for it. And so that's kind of where I got the drive to continue what I do. You know, like I still want to be able to do workshops and classes, uh, within the community, um, with the senior center, the high school, the youth groups. And I may not get an apprentice or somebody who's like knows it all in one workshop. But if I can pique somebody's interest enough to continue it, then I feel like I've done my job.


    Fallon: (11:09)

    She's not only interested in revitalizing this cultural connection, she's also creating these opportunities as well.


    Sateiokwen: (11:16)

    When I do my workshops, I try to incorporate language if it's requested. Like there was a language camp that came through here last week and we did a three hour workshop for them all in the language. And it was, I felt so accomplished after. 


    Fallon: (11:33)

    Yeah. Yeah. No, that's incredible. 


    Sateiokwen: (11:34)

    Yeah, I had a headache 'cause it's really hard digging up all the words that you need when you need it. Um, but very, very accomplished feeling. So it was just, you know, started with the ACR program and then just took off with it. 


    Fallon: (11:47)

    How do people feel after coming to your events or experiencing your relationship with the plants and with the culture and history?


    Sateiokwen:: (11:57)

    I think it's different. It depends on what kind of event, you know, right. Like if I'm just at um, say like a market and I'm, you know, selling my stuff that's a little bit different. There is an interaction and we talk about different things like how to use or do you want some seeds? Do you wanna swap some plants? Oh, I have this at my house growing if you wanna come pick it. So it is really nice, uh, connecting with people on that scale. Um, but then, you know, doing workshops and things like that is a little bit different. What do your


    Fallon: (12:29)

    What do your workshops entail?


    Sateiokwen: (12:32)

    I've done tea tastings and tea blendings. So we take um, three to five plants and I put them in, are you thirsty?


    Fallon: (12:40)

    Oh yes. I'll take a glass of water. Why not? Yeah, thank you. 


    Sateiokwen:: (12:42)

    So I put them in these glass pictures and I'll steep a tea for everybody to taste. And I like these glass pictures because you can actually see the plant and everything and the steeping process. Um, and then if they want and I bring extra, we can do like a tea blending. So based off of the, the medicines we covered that day, do you wanna make your own special tea blend like for you, you know? Um, and then I've done fire cider making workshops. So cutting up and talking about the medicinal properties of some of our common foods that we eat, like garlic and onion and jalapeno and the horseradish and things like that. And um, so teaching them how to make that and how to take it. I've done a sav making workshop as well. And yeah, I think those are like my four main ones. Medicine walk, tea tasting, fire cider and sav making. 


    Fallon: (13:45)

    And what's your favorite to do? 


    Sateiokwen: (13:46)

    I love doing the medicine walks. Like I could just walk around all day and talk about plants if I had somebody who would listen to me all day. I've been working on my medicine garden for about six, seven years now. And just probably this year I can, I'm looking out and everything's really starting to pop. The coming in. The bee balm is, I have a tall patch of balm and some short and they're really bright and fuchsia. I have some yarro growing in there, some Solomon seal and everything has taken a really long time to establish itself. And so there's parts of the garden that are still a little bit bare and others that are really full. 'cause you can tell when I planted those was at the very beginning.


    Fallon: (14:28)

    Wow. That's awesome. So six, seven years to build what you have today.


    Sateiokwen: (14:33)

    Yeah. Wow. And I'm still continuously building. If I ever go out gathering in the wild, I try to bring back a little bit and transplant it closer to the house. Um, just thinking, you know, in 10 years I won't have to go all the way out there to go get it. I can stay around home for at least one or two things, you know? 


    Fallon: (14:55)

    Right, right, right. What do you usually look for when you're doing that? 


    Sateiokwen: (14:58)

    Um, when I'm going out picking, it's usually for, let's see, this time of year, Mullin grows pretty wild. You can cultivate it a little bit, but it likes where the ground's been disturbed. So after, you know, post-construction sites, you usually see it pop up. So if it's like a nice clean area and it's not too busy and it's popped up, I'll go there and pick it. St. John's wart. I haven't had a successful grow in the garden, so I'm usually traveling about picking the flowers from the St. John's war, the elder flower. I go up to the islands to go gather and collect that, linden flowers and also in season right now. And so I go check out the Riversides, um, to see if I can find any of that. And then in the fall time it'll be the roots. I mean, burdock root is pretty easy to find anywhere around here. Um, elecampane root, also grows in the field around my house, but the one I have to go look for is the sweet flag root. And our people still do use a lot of that. So last summer I did manage to get a good, um, batch of the sweet flag to transplant a little bit closer. So I'm hoping that takes off in the next couple years. 


    Fallon: (16:10)

    Wow, that's a lot of knowledge knowing where the plant is, like what time of year, all of this stuff. Do you learn this as an apprentice?


    Sateiokwen:  (16:18)

    Yeah, so when I was an apprentice, like the first year was very much as an apprentice I observed and I listened and I had two masters who were very knowledgeable. Uh, Alicia Cook and Ernest David. And in the beginning was, uh, Louise McDonald Herne. Um, so I learned from watching and learning from them and it was a lot of reading about the body systems and things like that and, um, the different, some chemical compounds of the plants and how they can interact with the body. But then a lot of it was also getting in a car, driving around in the woods or the mountains looking for, you know, different patches of whatever may be in season, stopping, getting out, looking around, getting back in, and then finding a nice spot. And then I suppose we could have written it down, but a lot of it is just in my head. Like, I remember we kind of went out this way and looked for, you know, turtle socks or something in the mountains. And so I have an idea of where that is or 


    Fallon: (17:28)

    what's turtle socks? 


    Sateiokwen: (17:29)

    Uh, turtle socks or picture Plant, they grew up in the box. 


    Fallon: (17:31)

    Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The picture plant. I’ve never heard of it as turtle socks.


    Sateiokwen: (17:33)

    Yeah, I, I know, I don't really know where, where that came from, but yeah, that's what we call it is turtle socks. But pitcher, plant's a very cool carnivorous plant, very endangered. So we kind of like to have an idea of where it was without really, uh, and then we learned about it and used a little little bit of it, but because it's so endangered, um, it's not something that we would incorporate into a practice if we, if we had other options, you know? So it was kind of just like introductory, this is how you would use it, this is what we know about it kind of thing, so. Um, yeah, you never pick more than what you need and that one is endangered. So if you can pick something else, there's different options to that.


    Fallon: (18:13)

    Right, right. All right. So my next question for you would be, um, what are your best sellers?


    Sateiokwen: (18:22)

    My best sellers, I just did an event last week too, then I wrote it down, I think the Lavender Hydrosol spray was my bestseller at that event. And it's basically like a floral water. I made a big batch of lavender tea and collected the vapors and turned it into a spray. 


    Fallon: (18:45)

    Oh wow. 


    Sateiokwen: (18:47)

    So it has a really nice, um, lavender, I find it almost gets a hint of vanilla in the process somehow. And you can use it the same way for it's calming and relaxing properties. So you can spritz it and smell it, help calm your anxiousness down. Or if you get a bug bite or poison ivy, you can spray it on there to help relieve the, um, the pain or the, the scratchy, the itchiness. 


    Fallon: (19:17)

    How do you capture the vapor? 


    Sateiokwen: (19:18)

    In this thing. I just got this thing. 


    Fallon: (19:19)

    Oh wow. That's so cool. 


    Sateiokwen: (19:20)

    Yeah. So it's my fancy new distiller, however, you don't need to get that. Before I got this, I would basically make a big pot, like a stock pot, fill it with the water and the plant matter. And then you put like a little bowl in the middle of it and then you take the cover and you flip it upside down. And so when you turn the heat on and it starts to boil and the, the vapor and steam rises and you know, when you cook soup and you lift the pot and there's all that liquid collected on the lid? So that's what I'm collecting. So the vapors collect, they would hit, come up, hit the um, cap, and then they would pull down 'cause it's upside down. Right, right. So it's angled like this. And then from the handle it would drip into the bowl. Okay. And that's how I would collect it. 


    Fallon: (20:08)



    Sateiokwen: (20:09)

    Yeah. Um, I found this to be way more efficient. 


    Fallon: (20:14)

    Yeah. That's awesome. 


    Sateiokwen: (20:15)

    Uh, I can show you my drying shed over there. 


    Fallon: (20:18)

    Oh, yes please. Should we go for a walk? 


    Sateiokwen: (20:20)

    It's very, I sealed it up with duct tape, I'm very professional.


    Fallon: (20:24)



    Sateiokwen:  (20:26)

    And then here's the garden. I have some sweet grass growing in here. Lemon balm. Uh, we planted some strawberries. That tall plant with the purple flowers on the stem. That's motherwort. It's very good for, um, anything to do with being a mom or a woman. Menstrual cramps, anxiety, digestive problems, blood pressure. She's amazing. The lavender's starting to pop right there. And then the beebalm here. Those purple, uh, cone flowers or echinacea. Very cool. It's funny, like all that's going good. And then you see my little food garden. It's just getting eaten by slugs. 


    Fallon: (21:10)

    Oh no. Yeah. How do you preserve everything? 


    Sateiokwen: (21:14)

    I mean the flower, the wild flowers just take off. Like this was, this is yarro and it has a slight pink color to it. 'cause it was a fuchsia yarro that crossed with the wild white yarro. 


    Fallon: (21:24)

    Oh wow. Very cool.


    Sateiokwen: (21:27)

    Yeah. Oh, these guys drive me nuts. They eat everything. And then you gotta be weary, a little bit of the Queen Anne’s Lace, 'cause you see these little hairs on it, they um, they can cause some skin irritation. And then this one is the poison parsnip. Yeah. I mean apparently the root is edible. Like, like the parsnip. I don't really mess with this too much. I mean, if you touch it or touches a soft, um, part of your skin and then you expose it to the sun, it'll start to bubble like a burn. And then it does feel like a burn too. 

    Um, so yeah, you can see I had an event yesterday or last weekend so I put my stuff in here. So I got these drying racks that do a really good job. 


    Fallon: (22:23)

    Oh, so cool. Yeah. Smells so good. 


    Sateiokwen: (22:27)

    Just, you know, put them in here until they're dry. Got some red clover and Mullin. Um, what are these here? Oh, the horse tail. This is what I put in my hair serum. 'cause it has, uh, calcium and silica in it and it helps strengthen hair. 


    Fallon: (22:43)

    Ooh. That's awesome.

    Thank you.


    Sateiokwen: (22:55)

    Over there is the big garden. We can go take a look if you don't mind getting,


    Fallon: (23:03)

    Oh, I do not mind 


    Sateiokwen: (23:04)

    eaten by mosquitoes. So I did a little orchard too. With some, pear trees. These are little hazelnuts, cherry. And then the rest are apple. And then over on the other side you can kind of see the elderberry shrub coming up. There's a couple babies around it. And then we have some raspberries. The raspberry. Oh! See they eat. These beetles eat everything. And then they shock the plant. 


    Fallon: (23:38)

    Shock the plant? 


    Sateiokwen: (23:39)

    Well I mean they, they damage it and cause too much stress and then it won't produce berries. 


    Fallon: (23:44)

    Oh really? 


    Sateiokwen: (23:45)

    Yeah. So that's what happened last year. So this year I'm happy I finally have some berries. 


    Fallon: (23:48)



    Sateiokwen: (23:49)

    And you can use the leaves of the raspberry for tea. You can dry it. And add it to a tea. It's great for women's health 'cause it's really great uterine toner. So everything from helping your menstrual cycle through pregnancy and post-pregnancy, this is great. It's even very nutritious. Has like a lot of the vitamins and minerals that we need on a daily basis. And it's a mild tasting tea too. Want one?


    Fallon: (24:25)

    Yes Please.


    Sateiokwen: (24:31)

    And then I, so this is where I got my lavender from. I put in a bunch here. These three rows are established and then I put two more in over here. They're getting a little grown and I gotta come out here and weed. 


    Fallon: (24:44)

    Oh my gosh. Those raspberries are so good!


    Sateiokwen: (24:46)

    Right. I get some pumpkins back here. And then I'm starting like a little fire cider garden. So this is horseradish, all these big parsnips coming in, but the horseradish and then that's garlic and then we have some chives. 


    Fallon: (25:05)

    That's awesome. 


    Sateiokwen: (25:08)

    Slowly growing, establishing we can go back in the greenhouse. It gets really mosquito way back here.


    Fallon: (25:14)


    So I guess my final few questions for you would be, uh, what are your store hours? Just sell yourself a little bit, I guess. 


    Sateiokwen: (25:29)

    Oh yeah. I know. I always forget about this part 'cause I didn't start as a business person and I have a business now, so I always forget to, you know, hype myself up. Or have business cards. So I did open up a location. Um, it's very family driven because, um, so over at four 80 State, route 37, um, is where I'm located now for like my storefront. Um, it's in the back of Green Life Hydroponics, we're working on a sign, so you can't really see it from the road right now. We're open nine to six, however, some things are subject to change. Um, I also share the space with my cousins and they do, um, they have like a dull whip or fruit operation they're doing.

    And then they also have like different crafts in there. So I'm as well, somebody's usually there nine to six. 


    Fallon (26:24)



    Sateiokwen: (26:25)

    And then when they have their, um, their machine running for their, uh, fruit whip, it's a little bit later, like nine o'clock at night. 


    Fallon: (26:31)

    Okay. Okay. 


    Sateiokwen: (26:32)

    Yeah. And then Monday to Saturday. So it's pretty accessible and open most times. If you wanna see me specifically, um, I'm there during the day in the morning or you can message me and I can meet either. 


    Fallon Lynn (26:44)

    Okay. Awesome. Mm-hmm. . Well thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would just like to put out there? 


    Sateiokwen: (26:53)

    If you wanna get into plants, just start somewhere. Just start by going for a walk around your house, like once a day every other day. Familiarize yourself with what's growing there, what do they look like? And then maybe you'll start learning the names for one or two of them. Then once you get a hang of that, then maybe you'll start learning the medicinal properties of one or two of them. Then when you get some confidence, maybe you dry it and turn it into a tea and see how it makes you feel. You know, there's always room to learn and to grow. So like I said, the more you learn, the more you learn you still have lots to learn.


    Fallon (27:30)

    Right. There's always more.


    Sateiokwen: (27:31)

    Yeah. So it can be overwhelming, but working with plants is so much fun and so satisfying. I don't know, like I just, I just love it. They, they bring me back down to earth when I'm feeling a little bit hectic and crazy as, um, you know, new moms and small business owners know it gets a lot to handle. And so whenever everything's overwhelming, I go for a walk in my garden, I do some weeding or I check how things are growing and things like that. Just to help bring me back down to center 


    Fallon: (28:06)

    Again, a big thank you to Satieokwen for inviting us into your greenhouse, your garden, your world of medicinal plants and knowledge. And thank you to all those listening, we hope you found this episode to be insightful and inspiring, we sure did! Remember to check out Snipe Clan Botanicals in person or online at snipeclanbotanicals.com If you enjoyed this podcast and are looking to hear more, please visit our website@natureupnorth.org