Abies lasiocarpa
family: Pine (Pinaceae)
> vé'evėšéstótó'e, "fine coniferous tree" (Petter 1915: 480)
vó'komėšéstótó'e, "white coniferous tree" (Petter 1915: 480)
méeméa'tóne, "good smelling incense" (Glenmore and Leman 1984: 147), the word for fir branches affected by fungus
Subalpine fir (Alpine fir, rocky mountain fir) is an evergreen tree, 15 to 30 m tall, with narrow and conic crown. It has silver-grey and smooth bark, rough on old trees. The fir leaves are needle-like, flat, 2,5–4 cm long, glaucous green above. Brown cones are erect, 6–10 cm long. Brown winged seeds ripen from July to October. They are edible and oily. This fir grows on mountain slopes, on acid soils frequently. It ranges in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico; also in the Bighorn Mountains.
The Cheyenne used subalpine fir twigs affected by yellow witches’ broom (Melampsorella elatina), a parasitic fungus. Affected twigs are yellow and rarely found (Grinnell 1923 II: 169; Tallbull 1993: 1). These yellow fir leaves were burned as an incense (ho'háseonȯtse). The Cheyenne healers sought and used them frequently. Smoke and smell of burned fir leaves helped to eliminate malevolent powers causing sickness. It served in reviving of dying person’s spirit too. Mrs. Mary Fisher said one time when she was influenced by malevolent powers, Josephine Limpy, a Northern Só'taeo'o medicine woman, helped her to overcome them by burning yellow fir leaves. According to Charles White Dirt and his wife, fir leaves were burned to awaken a person who fainted (Hart 1981: 5–6). The Cheyenne medicine men and healers used the incense of fir leaves to purify and make their medicines stronger and to increase receptivity of the sick person (Grinnell 1923 II: 169).
According to Mrs. Mary Fisher and other Northern Cheyenne, the persons afraid of thunder used fir leaves too. When lightning and thunder came the leaves were burned upon hot charcoals to protect from harm and to calm people. It results from Cheyenne belief that lightning never strikes fir (Hart 1981: 5).
Occasionally, sweetgrass (Hierochloë odorata) was burned with fir leaves. According to Mr. Charles White Dirt, dancers of the Sun Dance Ceremony (hestȯsanestȯtse or hoxéhevȯhomó'hestȯtse) were purified with the smoke of fir leaves. Mr. Charles Sitting Man mentioned certain kinds of fir and pine were used for preparation of medicine mixtures of the Cheyenne Sun Dance Ceremony (Hart 1981: 6; Hart 1976: 3).
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