Wáǧačhaŋ Wičháȟpi: Cottonwood Star

When I am introducing someone to the wáǧačhaŋ (cottonwood, or Populus deltoides) and its medicine for the first time, I love surprising them with the star.

If you’re just using your hands to break the twigs you find on the ground, without a precise cutting tool, it might take a few attempts to find a perfect star. But it’s always there: inside every cottonwood branch or twig, no matter how big or how small, there is a star. It is at the cross-section of every limb of a cottonwood tree.

There are old Lakota stories associating the wáǧačhaŋ and the wičháȟpi (stars), which explain how and why the star got there, but they are not my stories to tell. Whether you know the stories or not, though, it’s always a happy event when you get to see these stars.

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