(told by Job Bearskin)
I can talk to you a bit about Cree medicine. My father was very old. He told of a story. Once when they where inland, a child’s leg broke. That boy already was walking when people travelled. But after travelling a long time he could not walk so his father must have put him on the sled. He was tied securely onto that sled. Travelling downhill, the toboggan started sliding down. The boy couldn’t get off because he was tied in a complicated way. My father said the sled hit a tree breaking his leg. The people were very worried and frightened. His bone was sticking out off his thigh. His bone was completely broken.
“I wonder what would have happened to that boy if I was not there,” my father said. My father gripped the leg, trying to reconstruct before the boy felt pain. The bone crackled while my father did this. He wrapped it tightly so the leg wouldn’t move. My father was like a great medicine trying to straighten and reconstruct the boy’s leg.
Then, during the day my father would make a sweatlodge and used hot stones for the child’s leg—a small sweatlodge just covering the leg. He placed hot stones in there and splashed water on them for steam. He kept the leg constantly warm as it got wet The swollen and bloody part of the leg cooked so nothing bad would happen. He thought that where it was thoroughly cauterized nothing wrong would happen. My father only used those stones and didn’t use medicine for they didn’t have any. He just used stones. Those that are constantly in water, that is what he always used. Crees call those water-stones, that is ancient language. That is what he only used and truly nothing bad happened.
My father said when they travelled he made a wooden box for the child’s leg so it would not move. He would insert it whenever the people travelled. He was a knowledgeable healer. When the boy felt differently, that is when they travelled. Not one whole month, the child was already standing and walking with his leg said my father. That is how knowledgeable my father was as a healer.
He must have been like a great healer. And that boy with the broken leg lived long. He was just a bit recognizeably lame. Then that boy, my father healed, got married and had many grandchildren. That is what he did when they didn’t have medicine other than their own.