Erma Pratt and Jeff McCormack
Bertram Forbes on San Salvador Island
Susilee Anderson on San Salvador Island
Edna on San Salvador Island with aloe plant
Erma Pratt
Mary Allen and Jeff McCormack on San Salvador Island
Mabel Williams on San Salvador Island
Barbara and ironwood tree
LG
Tom Hanna on San Salvador

Donate

Please support traditional plant medicine research
with a tax-deductible donation.

Help preserve Bahamian bush medicine knowledge.

Our research is funded partly through the sale of our book, Bush Medicine of the Bahamas. That partly covers the cost of supplies, travel, and lodging when at our current research site on South Andros. The remainder of expenses are out-of-pocket expenses. For this reason, we are inviting tax-deductible donations for support of on-going research and the publication of a second book on Bahamian bush medicine.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the "Bahamian Bush Medicine Project" at the Open Hands 501(c)(3) website. When you click on the image below you will be brought to the Open Hands home page. Scroll down to the section titled "Organizations". There you will find a PayPal button for making a donation by PayPal or credit card.

Click on image below to go to the Open Hands website:

Open Hands website header image

Instead of using PayPal to donate, you can write a check to Open Hands. In this manner 100% of your donation will be received. This avoids a 3% PayPal processing fee. Mail your check to: President, Open Hands, 523 Lexington Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22902. In the memo section of the check write "Bahamian Bush Medicine Project".

Each individual who donates $250 or more, is eligible to receive a complimentary copy of our book signed by all three authors, as well as a copy of the e-book, and a DVD of videos of our first project. When you write a check please also notify the principal investigator by email at Jeff.McCormack@gmail.com.

Brief history of first project on San Salvador Island

When we began on research on San Salvador Island in 2007 we interviewed the most knowledgeable people on the island, most of them elderly. Since then, half of them have died or lost memories of how they, or their relatives, used bush medicine. Our timing was fortunate because much their wisdom would have been lost to the ages. In 2011 we published our first book Bush Medicine of the Bahamas. Over the next couple years I produced and published 12 videos based on interviews with these elders.

Bush Medicine of the Bahamas was honored by the Mary W. Klinger Book Award for outstanding book of the year, awarded by the Society for Economic Botany. There are three basic requirements for this award. The book must be: (1) innovativeand setnew boundarieswithin the field of study; (2), and/or creatively research or document the use of plants by taking an educational or synthetic approach by integrating different fields of study, especially botany and anthropology; (3), and/or make other outstanding contributions to the field of study.

Second project: new research on other islands
and why we are inviting donations

Beginning in 2016, I resumed oral history research documenting the use of bush medicine, now focused on South Andros, Bahamas. I chose South Andros because it is the most biologically diverse island in the Bahamas. It is also the least-explored, less-densely populated, and least-documented area in the Northwest Hemisphere. The residents consist of a small population of families who are descendants of former slaves who migrated in the 1840's from the Exumas, at the end of slavery. Up until the 1970's they lived mostly along waterways in the interior of South Andros with little contact with each other. As a result of many decades of relative isolation, a number of local dialects developed, such that by the early 1980's there were 4 major and 4 minor dialects on South Andros. This is exciting news because it means that there are some unique approaches to bush medicine due to previous isolation.

Results of three interviews conducted in April of 2016 confirmed that there are indeed some unique approaches to bush medicine on South Andros. Surprisingly, there has been very little overlap in knowledge among completed bush medicine interviews of three residents on the island. Much of their knowledge has been undocumented. Preliminary results reveal that much of their knowledge is unique to the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

There have been many changes in South Andros since the 1970's that have decreased isolation of family groups on the island. Most notable was the construction of Queen's highway along the eastern coast. Another significant event was the introduction of electric power 1983 and the resultant availability of radio and television. These events caused many families to migrate to the coast, a process that contributed greatly to the process of homogenization. Local dialects began to disappear and local culture began to be affected by influences of the developed world. As a result of these changes, place-based knowledge and cultural traditions became diluted and replaced. Again, as in the case of San Salvador Island, the window is closing quickly for recording knowledge of traditional plant medicine. That is why this project is so important and why your contribution is so important.

Looking ahead to 2018, I am planning to extend the research to documentation of oral history and bush medicine on Eleuthera, which is one of the Family Islands in the Bahamas. Though Eleuthera is more developed than South Andros, it has a thriving culture of bush medicine, and it is likely to provide more unique information. Eleuthera is a long, thin island, 110 miles long and about 1 mile wide at its thinnest. Historically before the advent of a highway connecting the island, and the advent of electricity, there are likely to be pockets of family groups that have been isolated over the past decades. Eleuthera provides more opportunities to explore novel approaches to bush medicine, much still unrecorded.

When research on South Andros and Eleuthera has been completed, oral histories and traditional bush medicine practices will be recorded in our forthcoming book: Bush Medicine of the Bahamas II: A Cross-cultural Perspective from South Andros and Eleuthera Including Pharmacology and Oral Histories.

We welcome your support for this important research. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to this project.

Thank you!

Jeff McCormack
Ethnobotanist / Researcher