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Called the dark toe in the Algonquian language, gout may have been the culprit in ravaging the Blackfoot Nation. Historians are correct to ascertain that measles and small pox were devastating to these plains tribes but most miss to contribution of uric acid to the formula.

Once linked to gluttony and drunkenness gout is now seen in a different light. The Blackfoot were not big boozers until the whites kicked them onto reservations. So why did they suffer from gout. Their Alberta cousins, the Sarcee, did not get the gout nor did many of their traditional enemies such as the Sioux. Although not contagious, the painful ailment follows protocol.

The Blackfeet, unlike centuries of European victims, exhibited no guilt as it wasn’t yet invented on the at least out here on the prairie.

“The Native Americans ate few processed foods, little sugar, but a “buttload of buffalo, and I ain’t talking western New York,” said Alberta Purinal, a leading dietician how has never had gout.

“Imagine this scenario,” she continued. A brave wakes up in pain after the Sun Dance. He goes to witch doctor who recommends ginger root extract, black cherries, couch grass and Boerhavia extract. When he asks where he can get these remedies the witch doctor simply flinches and days…maybe over in Canada.”

Confusion reigned then as it does today.

One Blackfoot elder tells us he traded three ponies for a vial of potion said to relieve the gout. It didn’t. They told me at the lodge fire to eat salmon but never tuna. Then later I was warned to eat only tuna and never salmon. I can’t remember the mantra: buffalo meat asparagus and berries or buffalo meat asparagus and berries…

-Fred Zeppelin

For a related piece see Dystopian Nightmares by Lizzie Borden, Testosterone Bros., Boston.