Herbal Medics to lead Standing Rock Med Clinic

Juli Cohen of Herbal Medics. Image: Greg Harman
Sam Coffman. Courtesy Photo

San Antonio-based Herbal Medics, an outgrowth of The Human Path survival-skills school run by Sam Coffman, a former U.S. Special Forces Medic, has been tapped to develop and lead operations of a medical clinic at Standing Rock, according to Coffman.

The team went to Standing Rock more than a week ago hoping to hold medical clinics as protestors prepare for winter and the onset of cold and flu season, deliver supplies, and possibly help establish a reliable source of clean drinking water.

But a couple days after returning to SA to teach some classes before heading back to North Dakota, Coffman said he was contacted with the offer.

“They want it integrative, of course, but they’re saying that they want us in charge of the herbal medicine and herbal first aid,” Coffman wrote. “And they want herbal medicine to be the primary modality of any treatment when it is possible.”

Visiting the school, I met Juli Cohen, a resident of Spring Branch. She was pouring huge jars of dark brown liquid into plastic tubs with screwtops, preparing for the trip. She said she started getting into herbs back in 2014 while searching for ways to help manage her husband’s multiple sclerosis, the nausea that followed chemo, for instance.

Not only has herbal medicine helped ease his discomfort already, homemade medicine will be helpful, she says, if “the shit ever hits the fan.”

The day before heading to Standing Rock a couple weeks back (via several days in West Virginia coal country, assisting communities victimized by a 2014 toxic spill of an upstream coal ash impoundment rupture), Coffman shared his thoughts on the pattern he sees in many of the communities his group assists.

“You get this typical situation the happens over and over again. North Dakota is exactly the same situation,” he said. “We get these energy companies—whether it’s oil or coal, whatever it is. You get people who work directly for the companies. It’s good money but they’re never far enough along to pull back from that. They move up from poverty maybe to lower middle-class, but that’s about as far as it goes.

“So now you have folks coming along saying your kids are dying of cancer. It’s just the same as a mono-crop. You’ve got one economy that’s based on one thing, so what happens is you get this big us-against-them thing. It’s really not us against them, at all, it’s people who are scraping by, just enough so they can’t let go, and then you have people saying, ‘Look. They’re killing us here.’

“So now we have these two people at odds while the fat cats are making their money and putting it in the bank. The scene recurs over and over again. So the question is, ‘how do we break that cycle?’ To me the answer is you have to go down into the community and get the people to sustain themselves bit by bit. It’s not anything you can wave a magic wand. It take years.”

At Standing Rock, Coffman says attention right now is on preparing the camps for colder weather.

A group from AIM-Central Texas just made a supplies trip to Standing Rock over the weekend, loaded with sleeping bags, tents, and at least one wood stove.

“In a few weeks, temperatures are beginning to drop significantly,” he said. There’s a rush to construct more-insulating wooden structures ongoing.

“We need good first-aid supplies, we need a lot of herbs, we need people who are trained from everything from nurse practitioners and doctors to herbalists and paramedics and construction.”

Here’s the notice HM put out on their GoFundMe account today:

This is the site of the integrative health clinic that our organization will be helping to facilitate and run. The Mni Wiconi Integrative Health Clinic will be a clinic that integrates allopathic, herbalism, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Although it’s location is outside of the Sacred Stone Camp it will serve all of the winter camps and even the Standing Rock Community. This is ground-breaking for not only this community but for the 3 key groups (Herbal Medics being 1 of them) involved in this undertaking.
A clinic of this type is absolutely vital in ensuring the health and wellness of the water defenders. Your support in this endeavor will help ensure the success of the clinic. Through your support you can be part of something amazing.

From an earlier press release:

Herbal Medics is seeking the support of those with generous hearts and philanthropic spirit to help fund this mission. Herbal Medics is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and supporters will receive a tax receipt for their donations. Any size donation is welcome; all support is appreciated.

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