By Tom Keefer
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY- Buddie’s Apothecary provides a wide range of traditional Indigenous medicines to treat all your health and wellness needs. Niwahkwaritaa (Niwa), a Mohawk man from Tyendinaga, established Buddie’s Apothecary in the fall of 2016 to meet a growing need for herbal remedies on reserve.
Niwa’s youthful appearance is matched by a groundedness and deep seated drive for success. The father of two young children, Niwa is looking to build a business that will provide for his growing family. As a Mohawk brought up in the longhouse, Niwa has a deep seated involvement in his people’s culture and a strong appreciation and admiration for the natural world and practices of holistic healing.
Buddie’s Apothecary is simply the latest step taken by Niwa in his own personal road of learning and sharing. As he states: “I’m trying to pursue things I love. Things I grow. Things that are green. I want to promote healthy living and show that to other people and to my kids, and to help the good vibes spread.”
Niwa in Buddie’s Apothecary.
The father of two young children, Niwa says that opening the apothecary provides “an opportunity for me to learn more, to get the public and community more aware about healthy living and all these herbs that we can use that grow in our own backyard.” He adds, “You don’t have to rely on western medicine and the pharmaceutical industry when you can be using something that’s going to be more beneficial to you.”
Buddie’s Apothecary currently offers over 50 different kinds of herbal medicines from arnica to valerian root, but its most popular medicines are derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which is available in a number of hybrid varieties.
Cannabis, a plant long known to Onkwehon:we people, is increasingly being recognized by the non-Indigenous medical establishment as a “miracle” healing plant with hundreds of different medical applications. With the Canadian government having been forced by recent court rulings to come up with a framework allowing for the legal consumption of the plant, numerous “medical marijuana dispensaries” are springing up across Canada.
Indigenous people have a special connection and affinity to the plant, for like tobacco, cannabis (more commonly known as hemp), was grown by Iroquoian peoples long before European arrival on Turtle Island. Indeed, the plant was so well known among the Haudenosaunee, that one of the member nations of their Confederacy – the Tuscarora – were known as “the people of the hemp shirt.”
The buds and leaves of the Cannabis Sativa plant have many medicinal applications – relieving pain, encouraging appetite, providing relaxation and encouraging sleep – and the oil extracted from the plant can be used to treat a wide range of mental and physical ailments.
Much like they did with tobacco, European colonialists began growing the plant, but more for its profitable contributions to the expanding industrial economy in making paper, clothes, and sails. And like they did with the tobacco plant, corporate and governmental entities sought to monopolize and control the properties of the plant for the benefit of the rich and powerful.
Buddies Apothecary is now online at www.buddiesapothecary.com
With legalization across Canada expected in the spring of 2017, and with stigma towards cannabis use in steep decline, it is clear that medical cannabis represents a major new growth industry – especially on native reserves which have long been kept in a state of economic dependency through Canada’s Indian Act.
Niwa expresses little concern about openly selling cannabis, a plant currently deemed illegal by the Canadian Government. As a Mohawk or Kanien’kehá:ka person, Niwa’s political framework is firmly rooted in the non-Canadian longhouse tradition which upholds the Two Row Wampum agreement as foundational to the existence of Canada. According to that agreement, the people of the British Crown were welcome to settle in what became “Upper Canada” as long as they did not interfere in the ability of the people of the longhouse to live their lives according to their own ways.
As Niwa puts it, “our people have been practicing medicine for thousands of years, and we’ve never had to have a permit to treat each other.” At the same time, Lefort notes that medical cannabis isn’t the be all and end all of his business. “I’m for marijuana, but I also know that it’s not just marijuana. There’s a lot of other alternative medicines that you can use aside from cannabis.”
Niwa is not the first Tyendinaga Mohawk to openly sell medical Cannabis on reserve. Tim Barnhart, owner of 420 Legacy, has been openly providing medical marijuana for over a year and half without opposition from local police or band council.
Barnhart has been very open and forthright about his decision to provide Cannabis to any adult who enters his store looking for medical relief from their symptoms. Legacy 420 has been hugely successful as a result, and its continued operation is encouraging other Indigenous people to follow their model.
Niwa is supportive of the work that Tim Barnhart’s 420 Legacy store has been doing on this issue as he believes that Barnhart has brought important attention and recognition to Indigenous rights. Niwa points out that as Tyendinaga Mohawks:
“we’re under different jurisdiction than regular Canadian people. 420 Legacy has paved the way and been an eye opener on the reserve in terms of treating our own people. There’s shops [dispensaries] going up all over Canada and Toronto already, and with legalization on the outside, why shouldn’t it start here in Tyendinaga? We should be the first people doing this.”
Buddie’s Apothecary has a wide range of over 50 traditional herbal medicines to choose from. They are located at 19 Bayshore Rd in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and are open Sunday to Thursday from 12pm to 7pm and open on Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 11:30pm. Buddies has a drive through window, so you don’t even have to get out of your vehicle. For more information call or text 613-242-5413 or visit www.buddiesapothecary.com.