Why is it called Seneca root? Why, for so long, have I only known it as Seneca root? When will I learn to see it on the prairie? Will there be any prairie left even to look for Seneca root? Who brought this name — Seneca root — forward? As Grandma pulled that Seneca root on the wild Saskatchewan grassland surrounding Bankend, which is, by the way, on the map but not in the dictionary, she knew what it was good for, but did she know it as Seneca root or as mînisîhkês? She was born too late to witness the stamping, steaming, heavy-breathing, massive, mammal-smelling buffalo, but did she know the Cree called them paskwâwi-mostoswak? Did she taste paskwâwi-mostosowiyâs growing up there on that boundless plain? If the prairie is called paskwâw, a cow mostos, and a buffalo paskwâwi-mostos — prairie cow — which came first, the buffalo, the cow, or the prairie? Does it really matter? êha! Yes, because if Grandma didn’t know the word for grandma — nôhkom — and buffalo — paskwâwi-mostos — that’s where it started. Or ended. Why do I have to look up Seneca root in the English-Cree dictionary to find mînisîhkês and then again on the internet to find out what it’s good for? What disguises itself as twisted coincidence in my sore throat and sneezing this cold February morning as I ponder this? Wasn’t Seneca some Greek sophist, and if a snake in Cree is kinêpik and Seneca root is also known as snake root, how on God’s good green ground did a Roman rhetorician end up on the Saskatchewan prairie — paskwâhk — in Plains Cree country — paskwâwiyinînâhk — where the Plains Cree — paskwâwiyiniwak — spoke, speak the Plains Cree language — ê-paskwâwinîmocik? How many of the Plains Cree people spoke Ojibwe — nahkawêwin — or Assiniboine — pwâsîmowin. tânitahto aniki paskwâwiyiniwak kâ-nêhiyâwicik kî-nahkawêwak ahpô cî kî-pwâsîmowak? How did the big, open prairie — ôma kâ-paskwâk — become so unilingually, monolingually unknowing? tânêhki êkâ kâ-kî-kiskêyimâcik anihi iyiniwa ôki opîtatowêwak? And how is it that I’ve finally come to realize — to hear — how kâ-kî-kiskêyimâcik — “they knew them” — sounds so very much like kâ-kî-kistêyimâcik — “they held them in high regard”? Wouldn’t that have been a better history? If we really know each other then we can really respect each other: kîspin tâpwê kiskêyimitoyahki tâpwê ka-kî-kistêyimitonânaw. Why do I learn at forty-three, and not at twenty-three or thirteen, that Grandma’s grandparents were Ojibwa? Are some stories that hard to tell? Was Grandma Cree? Ojibwa? White? êha, êkwa nôhkomipan mîna ê-kî-nihtâ-mônahicêpihkêt.