by Hillary Bird
Originally published: May 31, 2017
As a young Dene girl, Muriel Betsina says traditional medicine saved her from being horribly disfigured.
It was winter and her family was living at a bush camp in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories just south of the Arctic Circle. While cooking caribou ribs, Betsina spilled boiling water down her arms.
She said her mother melted spruce gum, a sacred medicine of the Dene people, and spread the sap onto a cloth, which was then wrapped around Betsina's burns.
"You don't see no scar, eh? It was right here. That's how powerful it is."
So powerful and sacred that Betsina said she'd give her life to protect it from exploitation.