Muskeg Tea: kâkikêpakwa / maskêkopakwa

From “Irene Muswagon’s Herbal Remedies,” Chapter VIII in Norway House Anthology: Stories of the Elders, Volume I by Byron Apetagon, pp. 52-53. Frontier School Division No. 48.

Muskeg Tea

kâkikêpakwa means “forever leaves” in Cree. kâkikêpakwa plants grow in areas where there is plenty of water and muskeg.

[[Note that in Saskatchewan and Alberta, this same plant is known as maskêkopakwa – muskeg tea]]

The plant usually has a stem which can grow as high as 35 centimeters. The leaves are narrow and grow as much as five to seven centimeters in length.

The leaves never all die off at once, regardless of what season it is or wht the weather is like. This is the reason why they are called “Forever Plants” in Cree. They can be collected in all seasons, including winter.

This plants are used for medicinal purposes. They sooth and heal internal pains and digestive complications such as those relating to the intestine. Other uses include soothing and curing ulcers, gall stones, and pains in the diaphragm.

The muskeg plants are collected, then tied and bound together in bundles. They are usually stored like this until they are needed for applications.

The leaves are boiled in a large container for some time. As they boil, they give off a bitter odour and the water becomes very dark-coloured like strong tea. After the liquid has cooled, it is used as a drink for stomach pains and complications.

It is said this drink was used to remedy diseases like tuberculosis and reduce cancer symptoms. It was also used to ease diarrhea as well as menstrual problems in women.

Muskeg tea is also known as common labrador tea. Its latin name is  Ledum groenlandicum  

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