Bitterroots in bloom.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.
Earlier this year I went root digging, but did not find very many bitterroots. I thought I wouldn’t obtain any, but just the other day I went for a walk with my family, and discovered a patch of bitterroot in the most unlikely place: they were growing in large quantities right in the middle of the city! When my sister and I returned to dig, I thought these fields have not seen Indian People digging here in a hundred years or more.
I once heard a traditional story from the Montana Salish about the bitterroot; something about how the people were starving and a grandmother went out into the fields crying. Everywhere her tears fell became a root, still bitter from her tears. Her tears became bitterroots and saved the people from starvation.
My father used to say the bitterroot is a powerful medicine. He said it has a bitter taste to remind us of beautiful things in life. You have to take the bitter with the sweet, but you sure appreciate the sweet things more once you've tasted the bitter.