Entry Detail

Juniperus virginiana L.
eastern red cedar


Entry Type:  
Species
Scientific Name:  
Juniperus virginiana L.
Common Name:  
eastern red cedar
Myaamia Name:  
šinkwaahkwa
Description:  

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1903  

"For to make Fire in a new manner, new, and quite unknown to us, they take a Triangle of Cedar Wood, of a foot and half, in which they make some Holes of a small depth: After they take a Switch or little Stick of hard Wood, they twirl it between both their Hands in the Hole, and by the quick Motion, produce a kind of Dust or Meal, which is converted into Fire; after they pour out this white Pouder upon a Bunch of dried Herbs, and rubbing altogether, and blowing upon this Pouder, which is upon the Herbs, the Fire blazes in a moment".

Father Hennepin traveled with La Salle from Lake Ontario to Peoria, across NY, OH, IN, and IL to southwest Illinois. – Michael Gonella
Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Horticultural Info 

It is customary for Miami men to gather only from the male trees and Miami women to gather only from the female trees.

Kohn, R.W, Lynwood, M.R, Edmunds, D. Mannering, M. 1997 Use - Customs 

"We smoked cedar and stayed all night [at a relative's funeral] with her".

Kerr, J. 1835 Related Info 

"shingquahquah, cedar tree"

Aatotankiki myaamiaki 1998-2006 Use - Customs 

If a funeral ceremony is performed at the gravesite the leader will cast cedar to the four directions and into the grave and over the coffin. After the ceremony, friends and family gather at a relative's house. If the deceased smoked cigarettes, relatives will place cigarettes in containers around the area and each person should smoke one of the cigarettes as an honoring. Accompanying this is a smoking ceremony where cedar and tobacco are placed in a receptable and left to smolder. The smoke is fanned over a person in a manner similar to washing, the purpose being to cleanse away the spirit of death/

Aatotankiki myaamiaki 1998-2006 Use - Customs 

Prior to the body being taken to the cemetary, an elder or the Chief goes to the cemetery to smoke the ground with cedar and tobacco. The cedar is evergreen and signifies continuing life and the tobacco helps prayers ascend to the Great Spirit.

Olds, J., Olds, D. and D. Tippman 1999 Use - Customs 

Cedar is used to smoke family members to protect them from harmful spirits. Freeman Walker, Mildred Walkers late husband, smoked his house and kids a lot to protect them from spirits like the one that came from an Indian woman who changed into a wolf and planted a moth egg in his father's back when he was 18. He would put it in a little black cast iron pot and set it on the floor in the middle of the room, and then carried it into the other rooms including the bedrooms. He smoked more often in the fall, when the cedar burned easy.

Olds, J., Olds, D. and D. Tippman 1999 Use - Medicinal 

Smoke from a pipe blown into a child's ear that was infected. "And you know he [Anthony Walker, Freeman Walker's father, Mildred's father-in-law, Myaamia] was a great hand to cure an earache with a pipe. He'd smoke his pipe, you know and then he'd blow smoke in those kid's ears".

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Customs/Medicine 

Cedar is women's medicine. Cedar is put into graves, being a women's medicine it is an offering to Mother Earth.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Customs 

Red cedar is used when leaving the Nation drum, Gary’s personal habit to honor drum

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Archives Use - Customs 

". . . the chief usually had the medicine bag that has tobacco and cedar in it and uh he blesses the grave. . . the cedar is to purify things and the tobacco and the cedar is to get rid of evil spirits the way I understand it cause when they built this building they what you call smoked it. They use cedar and they put it in a little old pot and they kind of made a smudge out of it and they kind of used a fan maybe to keep it smoking and they'd go all around the room and smoke the building. . . they can take their hand and go like this you know get that smoke all over them and that's to get rid of evil spirits".

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Archives Use - Customs/Medicinal 

The chief smokes a sick person for healing. and smokes the deceased. "the smoking ceremony we think it kind of purifies us  . . . If you're sick or anything the chief will come out and smoke you which we feel like it helps you get well . . .we use to make the smoke is cedar and cedar is a cleanser . . green cedar to get more smoke, we use tobacco, tobacco is a purifier and then we use sage and its for medicinal [purposes] . . . there was some sweetgrass mixed with the combination of sage and tobacco uh and the cedar".

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Archives Use - Customs 

The chief smokes a funeral casket with cedar. "whenever we bury anybody the chief sprinkles cedar around the casket, uh then its traditional that th oldest women starts the line and she puts a little bit of dirt on the casket and it goes down as the ages get younger all the way to the back of the line. Then the man, him, it’s the same way all the ladies are through then the oldest man comes in and he puts some dirt on the casket. One of the tribal members stays as the casket gets lowered in the ground until it gets covered up. So uh to make sure the spirit stays there. Then a white flag is put at the head of uh the grave. Its left for three days".

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Archives Use - Customs 

Red cedar is a component of a medicine bag. "cedar is like a purification, um, the sweet grass . . . corn all of those have a special purpose, I'm not sure what they all are. Its just medicine. Everything you would need to sustain you here or here after, is that little tiny portion, is in that bag".

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900 Use - Technology 

Red cedar, black locust and mulberry tree wood is used for shorter war bows.

Botanical Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Gleason, H.A. and Cronquist, A. 1991 Habitat

Occurs on dry, especially calcareous, and other soils throughout the eastern and western Myaamia lands.

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

A volative oil derived from the dried ripe fruits of Juniperus communis, in small doses 0.1 cc is a gentle stimulant to the kidneys and act as a diuretc. In too high of a dose it may suppress urinary flow.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006  

Only two plants, wild tobacco and red cedar, were used traditionally as ceremonial plants by the Myaamia. Contemporary uses of other plants in ceremonies including white sage, from the western U.S., and sweetgrass, have been acquired often from the pan-Indian movement of modern times.

Kohn, R.W, Lynwood, M.R, Edmunds, D. Mannering, M. 1997  

Contemporary Catholic masses in Oklahoma have adopted some traditional ways of the Ottawa, and use a mixture of cedar and sweet grass over coals for incense, just like the Ottawa way. They also use a cedar sprig to spray Holy Water out, instead of the catholic bulb-shaped tool for the same purpose.

Trowbridge, C. 1824-5  

"shingwohkoa, cedar"

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895  

"alikunshi shingwaxkwa, from the cedar over there" and "milutxtunshi shingwaxkwa, in front of the cedar tree"

Gravier, J. ca. 1700  

"ching8ac8a, cedre rouge" red cedar, and "ching8ac8ki sapinage, bois tendre a couper-pin, cedre, pruche"

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900  

"cingwakwa, cedar tree, same for other evergreen trees except pine"; "other evergreen trees are known generically as "cingwakwa"

Whitford, A. C. 1941  

Red cedar fibers were found in a specimen from a bag made by the Potawatomi.