A’kíítoyi – Populus tremuloides (Trembling Aspen)
There is a story about Napi and the Quaking Aspen. When Napi walked through the forest, all the trees and plants would bow down in respect. One day, the aspens got together and started to complain about having to bow down for Napi. The aspens decided that the next time he came through the forest that they would stay standing tall and ignore him. Soon after they agreed, Napi came walking through the forest. This time, the aspens did not bow when all the other plants and trees did. Napi got really mad at the aspens. He got so mad that he called on the lightening. The lightening bolts came and went straight for the aspens. The aspens got so scared that their leaves started to tremble. Ever since that time, if the aspens hear someone coming through a clearing, their leaves start to tremble and shake in fear that it might be Napi with lightening bolts.
Japheth’s re-telling of “Why Aspens Tremble”
“I remember the story that you told me about Aspens. All the plants and animals respected Napi very much. Whenever he went through the woods all of the trees would bow down to him, partly out of fear and partly out of respect. One day Aspens got together and decided Napi wasn’t important, so they agreed that they would not bow down for him, next time he was around. True for their word, they just stood up tall. Well of course, Napi didn’t like this. In a tantrum he started throwing lightning bolts, almost scaring the leaves right off their branches. To this very day the Aspens are so scared every time they hear someone walking in the woods, they tremble their leaves in fear that it might be Napi.”
The Quaking Aspen gives its new buds to us to make a tea. When you put a drop of the tea in your eyes, it helps you with snow-blindness and sore eyes. The tea smells sweet and when you boil it down, you can use it as a perfume for yourself or your things.
When our elders were very hungry and had little food to eat, the soft inner bark was eaten raw or roasted over a fire.
The Quaking Aspen Poplar can grow to be 30 metres tall. The leaves are like a circle, with tiny teeth all around them. The top of the leaf is bright green and the bottom is a silvery color. The bark is grayish brown or light green. When you are in a forest clearing, where it is moist and sunny, you might hear the tree. If the wind blows just a little, the leaves start to shake and it sounds like running water is near by.
Le peuplier faux-tremble nous donne ses nouveaux bourgeons pour que nous puissions en faire du thé. Une goutte de ce thé placée dans les yeux nous aide à mieux voir dans la neige et à apaiser les yeux endoloris. Ce thé sent bon et une fois condensé, il peut nous servir de parfum, pour nous-mêmes ou nos objets. Quand nos aînés avaient très faim ou n’avaient pas grand chose à se mettre sous la dent, ils mangeaient l’intérieur mou de l’écorce, cru ou braisé.
Le peuplier faux-tremble peut mesurer jusqu’à 30 mètres de haut. Ses feuilles prennent la forme de cercles dentelés. Le dessus de la feuille est d’un vert vif, tandis que le dessous est de couleur argentée. Son écorce est d’un brun-gris ou vert clair. Dans les clairières humides et ensoleillées, nous pouvons entendre cet arbre. S’il vente juste un peu, ses feuilles commencent à trembler et nous avons l’impression que de l’eau coule par là.
- Kerik, Joan. (1979). Living With The Land: Use of Plants by the Native People Of Alberta. Edmonton, Alberta: Provincial Museum of Alberta.
- Tilford, Gregory. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants Of The West. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company.
- Willard, Terry. (1992). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighboring Territories. Calgary, Alberta: Wildrose College of Natural Healing.