In many instances, women played a prominent role in promoting the health and healing of the people. They not only treated illness in general, but sometimes attended to the special medical needs of other women, particularly at childbirth. This doesn't mean that they were just midwives, as most adult women knew how to assist in labor. Instead, these mashkikiiwikwe, or "medicine women", were called in when complications arose in childbirth or in healing of severe illnesses, and they were paid for their services as specialists.
Mashkikiiwikwe were also consulted by women who wished to induce abortion or prevent a miscarriage. In one particular case, a mashkikiiwikwe mixed certain herbs with other materials and had her patient stand over the smoldering mixture to stave off miscarriage. The woman in question stated that the knowledge of this cure came “to my sister and me from my mother, and she received it from her grandmother... Since no one but my sister and I have this knowledge, and we won't live much longer, it will die when we go; it belongs to our family."
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