Contribution Example

This is an example of the format for the source and explanatory text as it would appear in the final version of the source book. This is to give some indication of what we are looking for in your final submissions for the book. THIS IS NOT what we are asking for with your initial submissions of interest, please see our Call for Submissions page for further details on what you should submit to us by the 28th February.

Brief Descriptive Information/Intro to the Source

The source below refers to Sally Paul, a Kanien’kehaka woman (likely from the communities based in the St Lawrence Valley near Montreal) who had married Francis Paul in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.[1] Francis was Mi’kmaq (spelled Micmac in the text). The Mi’kmaq Nation’s ancestral land, Mi’kma’ki, covered modern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, the north shore of New Brunswick and inland to the Saint John River, eastern Maine, and part of Newfoundland, including the islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as well as St. Pierre and Miquelon.[2] Sally lived amongst the community based seasonally at Shubenacadie and Dartmouth in Nova Scotia.

Captain Campbell Hardy, the author of the piece, was an artillery Captain that had been posted in Nova Scotia during the mid-nineteenth century. He was associated with Herbert Chalmers Miles, a surgeon, in the promotion of the Sarracenia purpurea as a remedy for smallpox. When he published his account of these events in the Teranaki Herald, a New Zealand newspaper, he was stationed in Gibraltar.


[this can be text/image etc. as detailed in the call. This example is for a newspaper article]

Captain C. Hardy, of the Royal Artillery, wrote the following letter to Land and Water: – Indian Cup (Sarracenia purpurea). – as the question of an infusion of the root of the above plant being used as an effectual remedy for smallpox has recently been resuscitated in your paper, and as I was personally concerned in bringing the nostrum to light (it was then retained as a secret in the hands of an old Indian) when quartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia some years since, I feel myself bound to tell you all I know on the subject, I must trust to memory, as I left England all my notes bearing on the subject, and correspondence in various local papers at the time therewith connected. Your correspondent, “wahwahtaysee” is quite right in his general account of the plant, its mode of employment, and effects with which it is credited. Its use may be general amongst the Nova Scotia Indian. When I was there they all, when afflicted with smallpox, or desiring to use it as a preventative, applied for it to Old Sally Paul, or Shubenacadie, the proprietress.

The following are the circumstances under which I was induced to obtain the squaw’s secret: – in 1864 or 1865 ( I forget which year) my curiosity was aroused by the many stories about the marvellous cures effected by Old Sally in cases of smallpox, which I could hear from the lips of my Indian hunters over the camp fire in the backwoods. How Indians would go to her by water or through the woods, even with the sickness on them, from all parts of the Province; the rapidity with which a dose or two relieved them, and how in each case the formation of the pustules was immediately arrested and pitting prevented. I told all this to a brother officer, Dr. Miles, R.A. and volunteered to obtain the secret from the old squaw, with the view to the remedy being made public and fairly tested. At this time I had suspicion of what it was, and which afterwards turned out to be correct. My old friend a guide in the woods, John Williams, once said to me with a smile, “ah, Captain you’d laugh if you knew what common thing that is; grows most everywhere; wont tell you though; no take bread out of old squaw’s mouth.” I asked him how he knew it. He said he had come across her where she and her daughter had been grubbing up roots in the woods behind her camp, when returning from hunting; and that though she had tried to cover up the place with snow there were plenty of traces to show what it was. From what Williams said, I guessed this occurred in a swamp, and so to the swamps (everywhere in North American woods, and which are carpeted with a dense growth of sphagnum moss, with iris, cotton grass, indian cups &c.) I betook myself to taste roots, leaves, and stems, of all plants growing in such situations. I had tasted the remedy (apparently a plain infusion) a short time previously at the squaw’s camp; it was a light clear, cherry coloured liquid, with a pleasant and peculiar bitter flavour, and I soon recognised the flavour in an infusion from the root of the Indian cup (Sarracenia). However, there might be more in the remedy than the one plant, and a good deal in the preparation; so I went straight up to Mistress Paul to induce her to part with her nostrum, this was rather a difficult matter. A few dollars helped, though, and my assurance that in case of success in England, she would be rewarded, at last led her to tell me. Her daughter urged her strongly to do so. I was well known amongst the Indians as having always taken a deep interest in their welfare, and she said she ought to confide it to me. She was nearly ninety years of age, a Mohawk by birth, and brought the secret with her from Canada, when she married old Francis Paul, a Micmac chief. When about to tell me, I told her I would guess it, “you’re right”, was the reply. Dr. Miles at once sent home the remedy for testing, with the accounts of its use, effects, and mode of preparation, which I had carefully elicited from the squaw; at the same time I communicated on the subject with several local papers. I think the first favourable report of its efficacy appeared in The Times, shortly afterwards in a communication from Dr. Logan, surgeon of a guard regiment, who spoke most highly in its favour and said he had effected a good many cures amongst soldiers with it. The generality of reports, however, from other medical men, which soon afterwards appeared in the medical papers were decidedly unfavourable, and pronounced it quite worthless, Dr. Miles was recalled to England, and I gave up hopes of being able to do anything more for poor Old Sally on the score of her Indian remedy. She is dead now, but if, on being given a fresh trial, the Sarracenia proves, as I am confident it will, a preventative and antidote to Variola, I trust to be able to secure some recognition of the old Indian sacrifice of self-interest, which, I can aver, she actually made in imparting her life cherished secret to me for her daughter, who still lives on the banks of the Shubenacadie. Having this placed it in the hands of the facaulty, my connection with the Indian remedy for smallpox ceases. I believe the root has been largely exported to England from the swamps of Nova Scotia, and that it has been advertised by Messers. Savory and Moore at the price of eight-and-twenty shillings per pound, if this is the case surely something might be done for the old squaws family (who might have retained the secret yet to their own advantage) by whoever has been the channel of the Indian cup root from Nova Scotia. From what I learn from the Indians, one of the most remarkable features of the remedy is its power of arresting the progress of the disease at almost any time; for, however virulent may be the poison, after the first two or three doses (about a small teacupful) of the strong infusion the patient feels and amendment and a new hope, the symptoms of the disease all quickly disappear, the development of the pustules ceases, and they die off, when no pitting need be apprehended.   

Captain C. Hardy, “Indian Remedy for Smallpox,” Teranaki Herald, 1872, XX edition.

Your use of the source material/some general analysis

The way in which Hardy writes of Sally Paul, as both Indigenous, female and old speaks to continuities in white perceptions of both indigeneity and its intersection with gender and age embodied in the imagery of the “squaw” that stemmed from first contact with the Indigenous occupants of north America and, in many ways, on to the present day.

I will focus here, briefly, on this intersection of indigeneity, gender and age. Indigenous women when portrayed by white commentators as ‘good Indian’ women, appeared, broadly, in two forms. Devon Mihesuah has discussed the mythologies of figures like Pocahontas and Sacagawea, as Indian princesses romanticised by their youth, beauty and most significantly the help they gave to Europeans, turning their backs on their own people as they understood the inevitability of civilisation’s progress.[3]

Sally Paul was not a youthful princess, instead she represents the other ‘positive’ imagining of female indigeneity, the “squaw”, which Hardy continually emphasises in the text.[4] The imagery of the “squaw” is complex and nebulous, and was broadly perceived in white accounts as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’. The focus here is on the ‘positive’ imagery of the “squaw”. (It is important to note that this term is considered highly offensive amongst Indigenous women today due to its use in networks of oppression.) In Hardy’s article his continued reference to Sally as either Old Sally or the squaw, connected with his apparent concern for her and her family’s economic position is intended as affectionate, yet it resonates with implications of service to white interests  and the Indigenous women as a “knowing object” of nature.[5] Her knowledge and her provision of the same to white men fed into the same archetype as the Indigenous princess who was a ‘good Indian’ by virtue of her understanding and providing for the needs of the white man and her understanding the inevitability of civilisation’s progress at her and her community’s expense. Sally Paul’s passing on of the Sarracenia, and knowledge of the same, is perceived as part of an inevitable process in this light.

Furthermore, the continued reference to Sally Paul’s advanced age served to highlight both her overall health, lending her curatives legitimacy, and her declining role in the modern world. She lived long because of her connection to nature and she understood the natural world because of her long experience in it. But her age also placed her in the space between life and death.  The final reference to her as having passed away by the time of Hardy’s writing, therefore, reflects the images of Indigenous communities’ decline in the face of modernity, a decline that the ‘good’ Indian “squaw” understood and participated in as she passed knowledge and flora to white extractors. Despite Hardy’s call for economic aid for Sally’s family, the image he creates of her, as the aged “squaw”, is one of Indigenous decline, advancing civilisation, and his salvaging of what may be considered valuable knowledge.

Possible other roots of inquiry for lectures and seminars (a few possible questions or other related ideas)

  • You may consider questions of bio-prospecting and ownership. Who owns knowledge and is there an essentialised origin for medical flora or information about it?
  • How does knowledge move and why? Hardy was writing of his interactions with Sally Paul in Halifax Nova Scotia in a New Zealand newspaper, but he was based in Gibraltar at the time of publication.
  • How and why did Sally sell or share her knowledge of the Sarracenia?
  • How might this fit into Atlantic History, specifically the ‘Red’ Atlantic?
  • How might this relate to histories of vaccination?
  • What can this tell us about Mi’kmaq and Kanien’kehaka medicine, if anything?
  • How could we discuss this source in the context of medical professionalisation?

Suggested further Reading

Ed. Devon Mihesuah, Natives and Academics: Writing and Researching about American Indians, (University of Nebraska Press, 1998).

Jace Weaver, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World: 1000-1927, (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Peter Twohig, “Colonial Care: Medical Attendance among the Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 13 (1996).

[1] Farrah Lawrence-Mackey, “Medical Appropriations in the ‘Red’ Atlantic: Translating a Mi’kmaq Smallpox Cure in the Mid-Nineteenth Century” (PhD, University College London, 2018), pp.169-184.

[2] Joanne R Pereira, “A Preliminary Case Study of Perceptions of Access to Ethnomedicine in the Environment in the Mi’kmaq Community of Indian Brook” (M.A., Dalhousie University (Canada), 2000), pp.27-8; “The Mi’kmaq,” accessed September 4, 2018,

[3] Devon Abbott Mihesuah, “Commonalty of Difference: American Indian Women and History,” in Natives and Academics: Writing and Researching about American Indians (University of Nebraska Press, 1998), p.45.

[4] Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge, 2000), p.84.

[5] Susan Scott Parrish, American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World (UNC Press Books, 2012), p.229.