"Seneca believe humans are part of nature, but are also custodians of the living world about them. Seneca elders teach that since plants support us, we in turn acquire responsibilities toward plant life, such as givig thanks to the Creator and living in balance with the natural world. Seneca refer to Etinoah, Mother Earth, as a being who is nurturant, inspiring of beauty, and the wellhead of human prosperity and hapiness. Plants yield materials for shelter, fuel, and medicine. They also provide food and materials for tools, ceremonial objects, clothing and games."
(from the "Ethnobotanical Trail" plaque at the start of the Earth is Our Mother Trail)
The Medicine Walk Hike will take hikers on a nearly 2 mile trip along the Earth is Our Mother Trail. A GPS waypoint has been added to the track for each of the enamled and stainless steel plaques along this hike. Each of the plaques feature information about a plant that was traditionally useful to the Seneca. Along with the information are artistic depictions and the name of the plant in both Seneca and English.
Many of the plants you see along the way, not just those you will find plaques for, have traditional uses among the Seneca. Some plants can be used as food. Others as raw materials for a variety of utilitarian needs. And still others, are medicine in the hands of skilled healers. It is that special group for which this hike was named.
We urge you to attend one of our guided trail walks to learn more about the cultural significance as well as how to identify these plants. If you cannot attend one of our trail walks, you are encouraged to bring a field guide to help in the identification of the plants and animals you see. The picking of any plant materials at Ganondagan, as with all NY State Parks, is not permitted. But do take as many photographs as you want with you!
The hike starts at the center of the Creator's Garden, a medicine wheel garden next to the bark longhouse, that also features a variety of labeled medicine plants. The hike will then go approximately one mile along the Earth is Our Mother Trail and turn to loop back along the same path at the Great Brook. The walk ends back at the center of the Creator's Garden where it started, closing the loop. The trail ranges up and down a variety of slopes and features some wooden boardwalks. Proper trail/hiking foot wear is strongly suggested.
This hike will bring enjoyment all year long since each season brings different sights and sounds to the trails. Spring brings a profusion of woodland wildflowers - marsh marigold, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, bloodroot, and many more. Summer brings the coolness of shaded trails as well as matured berries (juneberry, strawberry, raspberry). Fall brings mature nuts such as hickory, beech, walnut, and butternut as well as colorful leaves - be sure to see the oak, maple, and sassafras in their autumn splendor. Winter allows us to see the form and beauty of the woody plants and trees without their leafy shawls. See how the face of our Mother Earth and her leafy charges change throughout the seasons.
Please see our self-guided tree tour (also vailable via GPS download) along the Earth is Our Mother Trail and Trail of Peace. It is an excellent compliment to the Medicine Walk.