Akwesasne, Franklin County
Traditional Herbalist & Medicine Woman
Cecilia (Kaienes) Mitchell is a short, amiable woman who is constantly in motion—making sweetgrass baskets, sewing ribbon dresses, cooking traditional corn soup, beading ritual garments—she does it all. For many, it’s her knowledge of growing things that makes her special, for Cecilia is a medicine woman, an herbalist who knows the fields and woods around her as resources for healing and comfort as her ancestors practiced for many generations. Her own backyard in the village of St. Regis is a microcosm of medicinal and culinary plants of our region. She is most proud of her ‟medicine wheel,” a large, five-tiered, raised garden, surrounded by a small trout stream. From early spring till late fall, Cecilia is in the garden daily, harvesting seeds, flowers, and roots for her own use or to give to the many visitors who stop by for guidance, good talk, and perhaps a jar of special tea of a handful of bitter twigs, each with her personal instructions for use.