Over the last few weeks, all along the Allarie Trails in Slave Lake both the wild and the domestic raspberries were ripe.
The KTCEA Elder Speak app says that the local Cree word for wild raspberries (multiple berries) is ayôskanak. The app was created by the Kee Tas Kee Now Education Authority (KTCEA) which has schools in five First Nations north of Lesser Slave Lake.
One raspberry is ayôskan, says creedictionary.com. A raspberry bush is ayôskanâhtik.
These three Cree words vary based on suffixes, with the base word being ayôskan.
The wild red raspberry (rubus idaeus, aka. rubus strigosus) is “similar to a cultivated raspberry,” says Plants of the Western Forest. It is found in “thickets, clearings, and open woods,” and is widespread across the boreal and Aspen parkland regions in North America and into the circumpolar region.
“The Woods Cree ate red raspberries with dried fish and fish oil,” says Plants of the Western Forest. “The Cree also ate the tender shoots after peeling off the outer layer. The fresh and dried leaves make excellent tea, but wilted leaves can be toxic. Extended use of raspberry tea can irritate the stomach and bowels.”