Medicine Tree Reflections
The Good Medicine Tree
Welcome to my meadow, rest here in my shade. Join your fellow
creatures who often visit this glade.The bear rubs against my trunk,the
squirrels feast on my seeds.The birds and bugs find shelter here, I provide
so many needs. I was here to greet your father,and for your children here
I hope to be.But our future here together dependson if you listen to me.
Don't chip my bark it is my skin,our bodies are similar you see.Leave my
pitch to heal my wounds,dead branches take carefully. Remember that my
body,though hardy it may seem,is sensitive to bruise and cut so please,
Treat me with respect and I will always be your friend here in the meadow.
-JimTree- Dayton Councilmember,
Southern Cherokee Nation
"I was very distressed to learn that the Medicine Tree had fallen. During World War II, while my father was overseas, my mother, Ethlyn Fowler Ross, and I
lived in Hamilton where she taught high school. She had been raised in Darby and
always pointed out the Medicine Tree to me every time we passed by. It was part
of her childhood as well as mine. The Medicine Tree was part of growing up in
the Bitterroot. -Ann Ross- Polson,MT
"My parents owned White's Country Store and post office about three miles
from the Medicine Tree. I grew up there. Every year the tribes would come
from the Flathead and have a powwow on the flat just north of the tree. As a
little girl who loved to dance, I was taken there to the powwow and danced
with them every year."I watched them visit the Medicine Tree and put their
gifts on it. I'm 81 years old now, and still remember it all so well."I came to
know an Indian family quite well. Every year they sent me a pair of new
handmade moccasins, from the time I was 6 years old until high school."I
loved to see them when they came. I loved the dancing. I loved the
moccasins and I love the memories. It was such fun to dance with
them.- Winifred White Blodgett- Hamilton, MT
- Medicine Tree Creation Myth -
The Medicine Tree and its surrounding area figure prominently in the
traditional creation stories of the Salish, which tell of when Coyote, a
great medicine man, traveled across this land killing monsters in
order to prepare the world for human beings who were yet to come.
Coyote was warned about an enormous, wicked bighorn sheep near
the south end of the Bitterroot Valley that killed everything that
passed its way. Coyote realized that he had to destroy the creature.
In an encounter with the ram, Coyote asked the creature to
demonstrate its power. He pointed to a little tree and said he wanted
to see the ram knock it over. The ram couldn't resist the easy chance
to show his strength.
The ram thundered toward the tree and smashed it with his great
head. One horn penetrated all the way through the tree, with the
horn sticking out the other side. Coyote cut off the ram's head with
three swift strokes of his flint knife.
He then stood by the tree and said:
"In the generations of human beings to come, there will be no such
wicked creatures. This tree will be a place for human beings to leave
offerings of their prized possessions, and to give thanks, and to pray
for their well-being, for good fortune and good health. Those who
are not sincere and serious in making their wishes will have
misfortune and even death."
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A powerful storm packing wind gusts of more than
70 mph swept through western Montana on
Tuesday, September 25,2001, loosening rooftops,
snapping branches and toppling trees in its path.
One particular tree lost to Mother Nature's bluster
had major historic significance to residents of the
Bitterroot Valley and members of the
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
The Medicine Tree, a towering ponderosa pine that
graced the narrow canyon south of
Conner,,Montana for more than three centuries,
broke off about 20 feet above its base sometime
after 8 p.m.