Medicine Bear Arts Interview

Posted on January 10, 2023 by Dannika Soukoroff

Gaia: Can you tell us more about your Turtle Island name Muskegee Muskwa? What does it mean? Does it express any kind of qualities about your character or fate in this life?

Medicine Bear: My name Muskegee Muskwa, it translates to Medicine Bear, it was given to me in a ceremony. What it means to me is I'm very strongly connected to natural medicines that come from the earth. I work very closely with natural medicines, from mushrooms to different types of algae, astragalus. One of my favorites right now is shilajit. Of course, marijuana tinctures, salves, topicals. See, one of the stories I was told by the Turtle Island elders is that what they used to do is watch the bear. When he'd get wounded, they would go and watch what medicines he would dig up in the forest to heal himself. And that's how they found this Bear Root. It's called osha. The bear is also nurturing, he's a guardian, very protective. So I consider myself a protector, and also a caretaker of the natural medicines that are found on Mother Earth. I do a lot of research in indigenous medicines that are used from tribes around the globe and trying to have them implemented in my life, my family's life, and different people who crossed my path to talk to him about the importance of using these natural medicines, the importance of staying away from genetically modified foods, because of the effects of the pesticides and herbicides on say, the gut flora of the human body, and devastating effects in regards to cancers, etc. So, I try to promote healthy eating, clean water, making sure we know where all of our food comes from so that it's not contaminated with glyphosates.

So that's one of the things that I promote is to make sure that you know where your meat comes from if you're eating meat because conventional meat is full of steroids, antibiotics, and hormones and fed this pesticide-riddled genetically modified feed. So in this time, right now, we're having a hard time as humanity because everybody's being poisoned from [corporations]. It's really horrifying because we know that these natural medicines that we've used for thousands of years can cure our body of different ailments. And the thing is, the body is the most complex machine on the planet if we feed it right, and we give it the right medicines. I believe the body and the mind is the medicine. 

Gaia: You are talented in so many ways. You of course you make beautiful jewelry, which we carry here at Gaia Rising, but you are also a carver. Can you tell us what kinds of art you create in your wood carving? Between jewelry making & wood carving do you find you prefer or resonate with one of them more than the other? Do you feel that you express different things in one medium over the other?

Medicine Bear: I really enjoy making wood carvings and bone carvings, but I just can't get paid for them. Maybe one day I'll be able to break into that type of market and have a demand for my wood carvings because they're very time-consuming, so I don't carve too much wood these days. I mostly focus on jewelry. The reason why I like doing jewelry so much is you're able to finish a piece in a much more timely manner. My average piece is say about ten hours to create. There are some jewelry pieces that I've worked on that have taken hundreds of hours, which are still sitting on my wall because I can't sell them, including my woodcarvings. So I prefer to do jewelry these days, and I really like exploring different techniques with jewelry making at the moment, and differently engraving techniques, but I really do love and miss wood and bone carving. I first started wood carving in 2006, and then I began creating jewelry in 2010.

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