Lightscape: Brooklyn’s New Winter Spectacular. Get Tickets

Cedar

Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Native Flora Garden
Running time 1:39

Chikkup is our word for cedar. In my traditional homelands on the east end of Long Island, we use cedar in many forms. We make boxes and hair ornaments with cedar wood. The cedar boxes are often used to hold and preserve our sacred objects. I often use cedar as a gift to people. There are variations of cedar throughout the world. So the gift of cedar given intertribally is a very special thing, because each species is unique to people’s homelands. We pick the leaves directly off the cedar tree and brush ourselves to cleanse ourselves spiritually. We take the fresh leaves and boil them and allow the steam to smudge and purify our home. We also use the leaves to cleanse ceremonial fires. The oil from the tree is a natural insect repellent. As a matter of fact, the same oil that runs in the cedar tree is also found in the tail of an eagle and other birds of prey. You might be able to see an eagle picking at its tail, thinking that there's something in there, but they're actually getting the oil from its tail to cleanse its other feathers. We use cedar leaf and bark to cure many different types of illnesses. Our ancestors used cedar for cough medicine, tuberculosis, and fevers.

Plants of the Earth

Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History, on view through November 7, highlights native plants around Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the ways that Indigenous peoples use and know them. On your self-guided tour, hear Chenae Bullock tell stories passed down to her and describe traditional uses for plants, including medicines that have been used for thousands of years

Look for exhibit signs around the Garden.

A line drawing of garden paths with locator pins for sign locations
{plants_earth_credits}
Image, top of page: