On March 15, 1711 a great man passed away. We remember him 308 years later because he was so far ahead of his time. He fought against slavery and racism (radical notions for his time), and worked tirelessly for all humans to be treated with dignity and respect.
Ahead of His Time
I write of Father Kino on a gardening site because his humane treatment of people included respecting the uses of plants by Native peoples – uses that would have been lost in time if he had not welcomed and fostered such knowledge, encouraging native herbs in the gardens, fields, kitchens, and infirmaries of the missions he was in charge of.
In his travels in the Pimería Alta, Father Kino interacted with 16 different tribes, specifically the Cocopa, Eudeve, Hia ced O’odham (called Yumans by Kino), Kamia, Kavelchadon, Kiliwa, Maricopa, Mountain Pima, Opata, Quechan, River Pima, Seri, Tohono O’odham, Western Apache, Yavapai, and the Yaqui (Yoeme).
In my book Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today, half the herbs discussed were ones used by Natives while half were European imports to our area, like anise (see more here). Over the years, I have mentioned some of them in my articles and blogs – stay tuned!
I do give numerous talks about Father Kino’s herbs. Each talk varies because it depends on season, audience, and what I might be able to bring in for “show and tell” from my garden.
For example, sprouting in my garden right now are one of each – Native epazote, and European basil. The basil, coming back from seed, is “Mrs. Burn’s famous lemon basil.” Originally (a decade or so ago) I bought the seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH. It is an ideal basil for this area, very drought tolerant, and ideal for the kitchen too, with delightful flavor.
Epazote is a native herb that helps “pre-digest” beans if you add some leaves while they are cooking. Strongly scented epazote does carry that flavor with it – indeed you will not taste it at all.
Father Kino lives on in many ways, including in our Southwest gardens – in mine, and hopefully in yours.
Father Kino was born Eusebio Francesco Chini in Segno, in what is now northeastern Italy, on August 10, 1645. The name Kino is the German version of his last name, which coincidentally also made for ease of Spanish pronunciation. Learn more at www.padrekino.com.
If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my free lectures. After each event I will be selling and signing copies of my books, including “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today” (Tierra del Sol Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there I will get a few pennies. Surprisingly – the book costs less locally, and can be found at area nurseries, botanical gardens, Tumacacori, and Antigone’s Books.
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