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stink weed tea

Stink weed tea

translation /other information

The plant is found every where in Golovin. Charighik is in the Composite family and has very small heads that contain many flowers on one head. These heads are yellowish but are not as distinct as the leaves. The large leaves are deeply lobed and have a silvery-green color. The distinctive aroma of charighik has given it the nickname, “stinkweed”. I don’t find the smell unpleasant but it has earned the nickname stinkweed, none the less. One of the village women, Laura Esparza, told me she rubbed charighik leaves all over her hands after she had butchered a walrus to take away the smell. So there are benefits to the odor of stinkweed.

Charighik is a useful medicinal plant that virtually everyone in Golovin knows about. Fewer people actually use the plant to help cure colds, skin problems, and any wounds, but I heard many stories of it’s miracle curing abilities. My grandma told me one story about when my father, Ronald Punguk, was young. They had a fish camp at Council, Alaska, 40 miles up the Fish River, from Golovin. While Ronnie was preparing fish to dry, he cut himself between his fore finger and middle finger. My Grandpa Ralph put charighik in the cut and it healed in just a few days.

Stinkweeds are valuable to todays Eskimos. They were especially valuable long ago before there was medecine. Today if you are out camping and do not have modern medecine, or your medecine is not working, use the stinkweed.

Stinkweed is found in dry areas with many other plants. It usually grows in clusters. When the weed turns brown it is picked and made into a medicine.

Sometimes the weed is boiled about 10 minutes and brewed into a drink which a person feeling poorly drinks. This cleans out the stomach and system.

Sometimes the weed is made to put on an infected area. The leaves are rubbed back and forth in the hands until they are as soft as cotton, then put directly on the infection. This is left for about twenty four hours. Then changes again and again until the affected area is healed.

The stinkweed is used today by the older Eskimos to help them get well. It is now used only when no other medication can help the sick person. It is no longer used by young people; they would rather go to a doctor for medicine.

Stinkweed has an unpleasant smell and they taste strong but they certainly can help a very sick person get well.

Stinkweed: “Charighik ”
a description by Florence Willoya
Another Elder, Maggie Olson described to me one of her first experiences with charighik . “In 1941 there was a hard measles epidemic in Solomon, and we all got sick, except Mama and Papa. And then, you know when you break out then you itch, and I scratched mine too much. I got sores and I have scars on ’em. I had one right on my elbow and you know they’ll turn into like enphantigo where they’re deep. And they get a scab, and you press the scab then mucus would ooze out. Same way with on my knees and around here, both places; I have scars about that deep (she held her fingers up, motioning about a quarter of an inch deep), that big. Right in here. So, Mama’s older sister, you know she knew the cures, the Native cures. . . She saw me trying to bandage my sores. . . and this was in the fall, maybe like September, so she told me to pick stinkweed. By then they were turning brown. And she said you rub ’em between your palm’s, until the outer skin, you know, drops off and becomes like a cotton ball; kind of white, like a cotton ball. Then you lay them on your sores. Put ’em there and lay them on your sores, and at that time we didn’t have band-aides, so I used gauze and adhesive tape. And they finally healed; you know that stinkweed absorbed that stuff coming out.”

To make tea: gather dried stems of charighik . The leaves should be dry and crisp to the touch. Remove the leaves and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Drink the liquid to help fight colds, flu, and other ailments. To make poultice: rub the dry leaves to make a cottony material, then mix with vaseline to apply to the wound or skin sores. Maggie mentioned that people even used to put the dry leaves directly on the chest of a person with a cold, it acts like Vics vapor rub. The plant is also useful as an insect repellent. The green leaves can be burned in a fire to keep flies and other insects off hanging fish on the rack. You can also rub the green leaves over exposed skin and to keep mosquitoes and gnats from bothering you. My Grandma Florence said that people also prepare bath water with charighik mixed in and this is good to relieve arthritis pain.

Stink weed tea translation /other information The plant is found every where in Golovin. Charighik is in the Composite family and has very small heads that contain many flowers on one head.