In the Haudenosaunee culture, the strawberry is considered a gift from the Creator and the first berry of the season holds a special place for the Oneida. The earliest of the sweet red berries are celebrated with a special ceremony in mid-June and the fruit holds the distinction of being the Oneida name for June – Awʌ́hihte’ (a-WUH-heat). (Learn how to say June, colors, phrases and so much more with the free Oneida Basic app available on iTunes. This application requires iOS 6.0 or later; is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch; and is optimized for iPhone 5.)
Oneidas use strawberries in many ways and often flavor just about all foods and drinks with them come early summer. Some are eaten immediately; some are mashed and mixed with corn to make strawberry bread and some are mashed and dried in strips (sometimes called “strawberry leather”) to be used later in cooking or to eat alone.
The juice, or “strawberry water,” is known to promote health and well-being and is a feature of various ceremonies. Medicinal teas also can be made from the leaves and roots of the plant, helping to heal such ailments as diarrhea and inflamed, achy joints.