Ironwood - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History

Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History - Ironwood

American Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Visitor Center (Ginkgo Terrace), Native Flora Garden
Running time 0:47

Ironwood has beautiful birch-like leaves, flaky bark, and drooping branches. If cut with a chainsaw, ironwood sparks, because it’s tough as metal. Indigenous peoples in this area have used ironwood because of its strength and its toughness. We still use this wood for the same purposes today, making wedges and hammers out of it. You may have heard the word tomahawk used to describe a war club or tool, but that's not what we called it. We call it kahtunk because of the sound that it makes when it hits something. It sounds like kahtunk!

Plants of the Earth

Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History highlights native plants around Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the ways that Indigenous peoples use and know them. On your self-guided tour, hear Chenae Bullock tell stories passed down to her and describe traditional uses for plants, including medicines that have been used for thousands of years

Hear all the stories.

“It’s hard to protect what you cannot recognize. This tour was made with good intent to share the value of the plants and in turn, protect our Earth.” —Chenae Bullock

  • A brown-skinned woman with indigenous face paint, beaded headband and feather earrings looks skyward

    Chenae Bullock is an enrolled Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal member and a descendant of the Montauk Tribe in Long Island, New York. Chenae is a community leader, water protector, cultural preservationist, Indigenous perspective historian, and humanitarian and has worked at many accredited Indigenous museums. She is the author of 50 Plant Medicines: Indigenous Oral History and Perspective, on which this exhibit is based.

Image, top of page: Romi Ige