Amelanchier alnifolia var. alnifolia
family: Rose (Rosaceae)
hetanémenó'e, "male berry bush" (whole plant)
> hetanemenȯtse, "male berries" (fruits)
Saskatoon serviceberry is a shrub or low tree, 1 to 7 m tall. Juvenile shoots are felt-like, later glabrous, red-brown. Leaves are oval to orbicular, 2 to 5 cm long, 1 to 4,5 cm wide, serrate in upper half. Flowers are white, 3 to 20 together on racemes; petals 1 cm long. Saskatoon blossoms in May and June. Fruit is a pruinose pome, purple to black, 1 to 1,5 cm in diameter, edible and sweet. The pomes ripen from July to August. Saskatoon grows in the coastal shrubberies, along streams, and in other wet places; from lowlands up to 2300 m above sea level; on dry soils even sometimes. It ranges in Canada from New Brunswick and Labrador up to Alaska; in the west and midwest of the USA up to southern Oregon, Nevada, Utah, southern Colorado, northern Nebraska, and Iowa.
The Cheyennes ate the saskatoon berries fresh and dried them for winter use (Grinnell 1923 I: 250). They were squashed and formed into cakes or whole berries were dried (Hooper 1975: 78). To this day, the Cheyennes prepare a puding of these beries. They boil them to mush and add sugar and flour (Hart 1981: 34).
Crushed berries were added to some medicinal mixtures, to those stimulating children appetite especially. Dried or fresh leaves are used to prepare a red-coloured beverage hetanémenó'evéhpotséhohpe ("saskatoon leaf juice"). The leaves are put in the water and brought to boil. Then, they are soaked for a few minutes. This beverage resembles a green tea. It is very refreshing and savoury. In the olden times, it was sweetened with the boxelder (Acer negundo) sap (Grinnell 1923 II: 176; Hart 1981: 34; Hooper 1975: 84). The Cheyennes prepare a tea of the saskatoon inner bark too. They call it "hetanémenó'ėhestóomo'éhohpe" or "saskatoon bark juice" (Fi­she­r et al.).
During the Sun Dance Ceremony, the saskatoon berries were among the food which the Cheyennes offered to the Sacred Beings (Grinnell 1923 II: 270). Some Cheyennes built a sort of ceremonial sweat lodge (vonȧheome) of saskatoon shoots. Cutting shoots and building the sweat lodge followed ceremonial rules in this case (Tallbull 1993: 6). An old Cheyenne story mentions saskatoon arrow shafts. The Blackfeet, Lakotas, Omahas, and others made arrow shafts of the saskatoon shoots too (Grinnell 1926: 196; Moerman 1998: 68).
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