Entry Detail

dogbane, indian hemp

Entry Type:  
Scientific Name:  
Common Name:  
dogbane, indian hemp
Myaamia Name:  

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
Rafert, S. 1992 Use - Technology 

Used for cordage in contemporary Myaamia community: 4-5 stalks used to make about 1.5 feet of cordage. Cordage is made into nets for weir, fishnet--cordage made into a net by wrapping cordage pieces around an end piece of cordage, so that the two ends hand down next to each other, and then tying two of those at regular intervals with a square knot, forming diamond-shaped openings.

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1886-1901 Use - Technology 

"They [the Illinois] take little trouble to make nets suitable for catching fish in the rivers, because the abundance of all kinds of animals which they find for their subsistence renders them somewhat indifferent to fish. However, when they take a fancy to have some, they enter a canoe with their bows and arrows, they stand up that they may better discover the fish, and as soon as they see one they pierce it with an arrow".

Blair, E 1911 Use - Technology 

"There is among them a certain game, called crosse, which has much likeness to our game of long tennis . . . You will see them all equipped with the crosse--which is a light club, having at one end a broad flat part that is netted like a racket".

Blair, E 1911 Use - Material 

"A game of ball with rackets of the Algonquian and Iroquoian tribes of the Atlantic seaboard and region of the Great Lakes, much like Lacrosse--played with a single racket which was curved at the end and netted".  Netting for modern native lacrosse is dogbane, basswood, nettles or another strong fiber.

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900 Use - Technology 

Dogbane used for making thread.

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1903 Use - Technology/Material 

 "I have observed that Hemp grows naturally in that Country, and that they make Tarr and Pitch toward the Sea-Coast".

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Technology 

"sápa kwapahakane" dip-net

Raudot, A.D. 1904 Use - Technology 

"The women gather, spin and twist lengths of cordage on their bare thighs. The cords used to draw these nets are made of the bark of basswood or leather. With these nets many fish and beaver are captured. They also fish with still lines".

Outdoor Indiana 1988 Related Info 

An ancient fish weir/dam is described in Outdoor Indiana, July/August 1988.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Material 

The name for lacrosse is ahsapa tawaani meaning net stick, and the word for the net is the same as the word for dogbane, since the net was made from dogbane or similar fiberous material.



Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Technology 

"There is a place on the Wabash River where there is an old fish weir still visible, probably from the old Miamis".

Gravier, J. ca. 1700 Use - Technology 

'hemp cord' waapahsapiiki (plural)

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900 Use - Technology 

"a rush used for weaving"

National Museum of the American Indian 2003 Use - Material 

There are three Myaamia items made of hemp, possibly dogbane or nettles, including a sack, medicine pouch and necklace cordage. These are all housed at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.



Cranbrook Institute of Science 2003 Use - Technology/Material 

There are 2 items that are possibly made with plant fibers, which could include dogbane, nettles or basswood, among others, at the Cranbrook Institute in Michigan.

Botanical Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1903 Ecological Info 

Indian hemp grew abundantly in the Miami-Illinois country.

Burton, C., Stevens, B. 1915 Habitat 

La Salle was one of the first to note the name of a tributary to the upper portion of Illinois River, called masaana [rope] siipiiwi, which is the present day Kankakee River, so named for the surrounding land of present day Mazon, (McCafferty 2004) where he noted a great quantity of hemp growing.

Gleason, H.A. and Cronquist, A. 1991 Habitat 

Occurs in open places throughout eastern and western Myaamia lands.

Imlay, G. 1792 Ecological Info 

Apocynum cannabinum was documented as present in North America in 1792.

Related Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Coulter, S. 1932  

Dried rhizome and roots in doses of 0.3-1.2 gm may be used similarly to Digitalis, for in weakness of heart and improving artery strength. Dangers in its use are its irritation to the gastrointestinal tract and potential of cumulative action.

Densmore, F. 1974  

Spreading dogbane (A. androsaemifolium) was used by the Chippewa as a medicine, for heart palpitation, earache, headache, a baby's cold, also as a charm to counteract evil charms. Dogbane (unspecified species) was used for a cough. The root was also combined with root fibers of white snakeroot (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and applied to a deer whistle.

Blair, E 1911  

"The obligations of women are to . . . to make twine, in order to provide nets for the men".

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1886-1901  

"They [the Iroquois] also have excellent hemp, which grows wild, and in quality and appearance is much superior to ours".

Rafert, S. 1989  

Fish nets, possibly made of dogbane fibers, were used at the mouth of these weirs. Lamoine Marks told Rafert that before the commercial nets, basket nets were made from bark, mostly the inner bark of the slippery elm, or red elm, and these were used at the weirs.

Rafert, S. 1989  

In old times Myaamia fishermen used fishnets and baskets to catch fish. In more modern times Miami fishermen [like Charlie Marks, 1870-1946, Lamoine's father] used commercial seine nets and spears.

Holmes, W. 2020  

Apocynum cannabinum hemp was utilized by the native peoples of the northeast (NJ, PA, NY, etc.), growing abundantly in old corn fields, woods on hills and higher, moist areas. It was used for making ropes and nets and were stronger and more durable than other fibers. "The Swedes commonly got fourteen yards of these ropes for [trade for] one piece of bread".  The Iroquois women rolled the fibers upon their bare thighs, making thread, and then rope for various purposes including fishing.

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895  

"Fishing nets were invented by Michabou, as it was the spider's web which gave him the first idea of it".

Dunn, J.P. 1908  

Gabriel Godfroy said that the Miamis used not nets or seines for fishing, but used spears, bows and arrows instead, and sometimes used movable weirs made of "wattled brush" and grape vines when fishing in a party, which they would force the fish to the shore.

Burns, N.L. 1938  

 "It grew here [northeastern Oklahoma] and after peeling the bark the body of the weed could be separated into very fine threads which are very strong and durable. The bark is white and the plant grows about two feet high".

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1886-1901  

"There are meadows ten or twenty leagues broad, encompass'd with fine forests, behind which are other meadows, in which grass grows six foot high. Hemp grows naturally in all that [Miami-Illinios] country".

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900  

 Dunn recorded the [Miami-Illinois] terms for fishnet as "kikonässa sápa", or "sapáhakánĭ"

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006  

Gravier gave the term "8abassapiki" as plural for 'hemp cord'; "espece de chamvre dont on fait des cordes asses blanches"; Pinet gives "8abasapiki" and glosses this "corde dorties"; both represent phonemic waapahsapiiki.

Rafert, S. 1989  

An ancient fishing weir dam still exists on the Wabash River, northeast of Peru, Indiana and was and is known to most Myaamia fishermen. Lamoine Marks was told about it when he was a boy, by his father Charlie and last saw it while fishing in winter in 1953. Rafert and Marks rediscovered it in July, 1988.

Costa, D. 2022  

The Fox cognate for ahsapa is asapya, and the Shawnee cognate is waaphθapya.  

Whitford, A. C. 1941  

Both Apocynum androsaemifolium and A. cannabinum, were both probably used for fibers, the latter tending to have longer, straighter stems and thus potentially longer fibers. Pieces of fabric attributed to the Hopewell and Adena culture of Ohio were made using Apocynum fibers and a fish net was made by the Nanticoke. Older specimens have less processed fibers, whereas more recent Indian material is well broken down with fine fibers for thread or cordage.