Native Spirit: Importance of hickory

Posted: 11:59 AM, Oct 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-08 18:17:00Z

A hickory tree helps form the roots of a culture centuries old.

"Native Americans were obviously very close with nature, and they saw a lot of things in nature as being a gift,” says Mike Starshak, the Wisconsin Hickory Association President. “They were one with nature.”

With the prevalence of hickory, this gift kept on giving.

"The tree, just on the outer appearance, had such great use for them,” says Starshak.

There's the bark.

"They would make an herbal tea from that bark that would help rheumatism and arthritis,” says Starshak. “This tree was giving them this medicine."

There’s the hickory nut.

"Which was a great food,” says Starshak. “And a great food source because it came in its own wrapper."

But Native Americans in Wisconsin didn't just use the outside of the tree.

"The wood is very resilient,” says Starshak. “It torques and twists without splintering, so they'd be able to use it in weapons like bows and arrows and things like that."

Tribes could burn the wood for fuel and heat. From this one tree came so many uses and at least one valuable lesson.

"They really were one with nature, and it's something that we're learning today - that maybe natural and organic is better for us, and Native Americans knew that,” says Starshak. “They valued the resources, they didn't waste the resources."