ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — A Native American who began learning about traditional Iroquois medicine when he was only a young boy will discuss his career as a medicine man at St. Bonaventure University.
The presentation by Edward Gray, “Traditional Iroquois Healing: A Medicine Man’s Insight,” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the amphitheater of the William F. Walsh Science Center on campus. The program is free and open to the public.
Gray, the second youngest of seven children, was born on a farm in Akwesasne, in upstate New York.
He began his career as a medicine man at a young age by observing many of the elders within his community. Meeting in the local barbershop, Gray listened and learned as his relatives and friends discussed herbs and treatments of various ailments. Between the ages of 8 and 9, he began following a local medicine man on walks through the woods. Year after year, Gray followed and learned what plants were useful, how they were useful, and when to harvest them.
He spent time as both a mine and ironworker in New York City before returning to Mohawk territory to become their medicine man. The Mohawk tribe is among the five original Native American nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy.
Gray is one of only three medicine men among the Mohawk Nation of upstate New York and southern Ontario and has worked for the past 14 years in a traditional medicine clinic in St. Regis, Ontario. He is widely respected among his people and is known for his healing abilities throughout the U.S. and Canada. There are currently no trained medicine men among the Seneca Nation of Indians Allegany territory and only a very small number among the whole Iroquois Confederacy.
Gray’s presentation complements a course being offered this semester as part of the university’s core curriculum (Clare College). The focus of instructor Dr. David Hilmey’s World Views class is Native American health and medicine. In addition to their classroom discussions, with the support of St. Bonaventure’s Center for Community Engagement, Hilmey and his students have had continuing discussions with the Seneca Faithkeepers’ school, founded by Lehman “Dar” and Sandy Dowdy, and will present their work to students in the Salamanca City schools.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. No wonder U.S. News and World Report has for years considered us a “Great School at a Great Price.”