Crow tribal members have been using traditional ways to alleviate symptoms of COVID-19. Noel Two Leggins of the Crow Agency created a tea that uses medicinal herbs like sage, bear root, and mint to soothe the COVID-19 symptoms of his tribal members.
“The plains Indians tribes and the people on this continent had to find, you know, natural medicines and herbs to make themselves better when they were under the weather,” said Two Leggins.
Though COVID-19 is a contemporary disease, Two Leggins has turned to the past of his people to help tribal members heal.
“When the pandemic hit, people of the tribe and our relatives called us and they knew we harvested like our ancestors, and they asked, do you have any bear root? Do you have any mint tea? Any sage?” Two Leggins said.
Like all Montanans, the past two years have been difficult for the Crow people.
“There was fear. People were scared to leave. People were scared to talk to one another,” said Two Leggins.
The ancient tribal tradition of rooting herbs has helped. Two Leggins and his family created the tea from mint leaves, sage, juniper, mahogany, sweet grass, and bear root. He claims the tea has not only alleviated some COVID-19 symptoms but has also helped with anxiety.
“After they drank the tea, they were able to breathe. A lot of people, majority of it, said it helped them sleep and it minimized the anxiety,” said Two Leggins.
Two Leggins's passion for tea making is very personal.
“I lost my uncle to COVID. He was a great teacher,” Two Leggins said.
Two Leggins lost both his uncle, Henry Sarge Old Horn, and his aunt, Tina Cline, to COVID-19. He said these two family members were an inspiration in prayer and culture. A lot of Crow culture died when the pandemic took so many of his elders so suddenly.
Two Leggins, who said he and his family are now vaccinated, learned all of his knowledge of these treatments from his father, Hubert B. Two Leggins.
“Ever since I was young, my mom was mainly the one that would have us pick berries and some of these plants,” said Hubert Two Leggins.
That knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation. The Two Leggins family, however, is fearful that the knowledge is slowly disappearing. That’s why they work so hard, not only to keep the community safe but to make sure this tradition stays alive.
“I show my grandkids, even the little ones. I show them everything I know,” said Hubert Two Leggins.
Noel Two Leggins agreed.
“No one else is going to do this, and so if we don’t show our younger generation, we’re going to lose it, and when they lose it, they’re going to lose who they are and where they come from. And knowing a lot of this is part of it,” he said.