Hola, my name is Jason Schaefer.  I am a Junior here at the University of North Dakota.  Perhaps, more importantly, I am a lifelong resident of North Dakota.  I have always felt a sort of connection to this place.  That connection has been reinvigorated during the past year thanks to some traveling I have done.  I spent four months in Spain followed by three months in Missoula, Montana.  I had a blast to say the least!  One thing that struck me about both Spain and Missoula, was the deep "sense of place" the people had.  In Spain, it was straight up pride in place.  No surprise considering that roots run deep there, like thousands of years.  People in Missoula, including the kids (in Missoula they called pretty much anyone who was young at heart a kid), really wanted to be there.  Unlike Spain, though, Missoulians (especially the kids) did not have deep roots established in that place.  Many of my friends in Missoula had recently moved there from other areas like Florida, Nevada, Nebraska, and Minnesota.  And, of course, there were a ton of North Dakota kids out there.

Both Spain and Missoula provided wonderful and obvious eye candy.  I was in a region of Spain known as Andalucia in the town of Almunecar.  Almunecar has an old Moorish castle sitting on top of a hill in the center of town surrounded by the sea and mountains along with a warm Mediterranean climate.  The vistas in Missoula were equally impressive with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains surrounding town and the dense Lolo National Forest nearby.  The area offers a wide array of outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, snowboarding, canoeing, fly-fishing and whitewater rafting.  One does not have to look too hard to notice the natural beauty in these two places.  I think that is why people in these two places have such a deep  and evident sense of place.

Here on the plains, it’s a different story.  Our landscape is flat and barren.  The wind is unrelenting and the weather is unpredictable, to put it nicely.  Our landscape is one of farms and ranches.  We take great pride in being the "breadbasket to the world.”  But, on the other hand, we are looking at a severely altered and changed ecosystem here in what was once ignorantly called the Great American Desert.  The crops we plant here were originally imported from Europe and Asia, most of the trees we see on the flat, unrelenting prairie landscape were not originally found here.  The Kentucky bluegrass in our yards is not native and neither are most of our shrubs and flowers used for landscaping.  In the process of bringing in all these exotic species, we have severely altered the landscape, but more importantly, we have not come to terms with this place.  We neglected to learn about the complex prairie ecosystem that was already in place for thousands of years before us.  We did not learn from the native people who successfully lived on this land for thousands of years.  In short, we imposed our vision on this land instead of letting the land guide us.  Because of this, I believe, folks on the plains have to search harder to find our sense of this place.

In our quest to find a sense of this place many of us have discovered the spectacular native plants of this region.  Tall and sturdy grasses such as Big Bluestem and wildflowers that paint the prairie a rainbow of colors help us to imagine a time when those plants danced with the wind for as far as the eye could see under the vast blue sky. Unfortunately, here in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota only 1/10th of 1% of this native tallgrass prairie remains.  Upon first hearing about this a couple of years ago, I wanted to do something.  Mainly because I did not want to see something lost that could never return once it was gone.  As I have learned more, I realize that much more is at stake.  Our identity and the way we evolve as a species is tied in with our relationship to the ecosystem in which we live.  The way I see it we pretty much need to do a complete 180 when it comes to our relationship with the land.  We need to be in communion with the land instead of exploiting it.  To do this we need a new philosophy, but most importantly we need a new kind of connection with our place.  To accomplish this, we must seek to learn more about the plants and other organisms of this place.

Echinacea is a good place to start.  While we should be commended for using this gift of the land to help heal our colds and other health problems, we are still in that same mental trap of exploitation.  The plant was at risk of being completely obliterated from the wild thanks to poachers.  Fortunately, we are moving toward more sustainable practices as far as cultivating Echinacea for our personal health concerns goes.  Nowadays, it is much easier to find organically cultivated Echinacea in your natural health store.  Thank goodness, because this is definitely a plant worth saving in all of its natural glory.

While I hope that this page will teach people about Echinacea, I also want to show how our relationship with this particular plant runs parellel to our relationship with the prairie as a whole.  Just as we are beginning to understand the usefullness and importance of the Purple Coneflower, we are also learning to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the prairie ecosystem as a whole.  All accross the plains, a movement is underway to restore native prairie including our own Soaring Eagle Prairie here at the University of North Dakota.  I feel the Soaring Eagle Prairie and these webpages inspired by it will become seeds that will enable the prairie to become a more prominant part of our lives.  So, please browse this page and learn more about this wonderful plant. 

Thanks,  Jason
February 1, 2002



I came down with a real bad case of bronchitis back in the winter of 1997.  It was really kicking my butt and I even thought it might be Mono.  I went to the doctor and was given the usual antibiotics and cold medications.  None of this helped.  I continued to struggle with this until I went to a natural foods store and picked up some Echinacea along with a homeopathic remedy.  Within a week I was feeling better.  I couldn't believe it!  I have never had a serious cold since then.  Ever since, I have been a supporter of Holistic medicine.

One word of caution, however.  I was so enthusiastic about Echinacea's immune-boosting effects that I continued to take it after my sickness had subsided.  What ended up happening was that when I would stop taking it, I would get sick again.  I have learned from holistic healers that Echinacea should be taken for up to two weeks at the most usually or until symptoms subside.  It is also important to start taking Echinacea as soon as you feel the first little sign of a cold or a flu.  You know, that little tingly feeling in your throat or whatever.  Of course, I should stress that I am not a medical doctor and that this is my own personal experience.  Everyone's body is different so when using holistic methods be sure to listen to your body very closely and consider working with a holistic healer such as a Naturopath or Herbalist.  To find out more about Echinacea'shealth enhancing effects and holistic uses I would strongly recommend Joe Pizzorno N.D.'s book, Total Wellness.

In the process of constructing this website, I was shown once again the healing gifts of Echinacea. My Dad was recently admitted to the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia.  We were very concerned as the doctor informed us that he had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving.  He was hooked up to a ventilator, being fed intraveneously, and his white blood cell count was very low.  It was looking grim.  We decided to consult a Naturopathic physician and see if he could help us out in any way.  He contacted my Dad's doctor and they agreed to supplement the conventional medical care my Dad was receiving with an herb and vitamin tonic suggested by the Naturopath.  This tonic included Echinacea angustifolia. While all of this was happening, I came down with a case of the flu.  I treated it with Echinacea tea and capsules along with lots of vitamin C, plus some good old rest and relaxation.  The flu went away within a day and I was able to concentrate on my Dad's health again.

While I had recovered from my short little bout with the flu, my Dad's condition was slowly improving.  His white blood cell count went up every day, his lungs started clearing up and his respiration was improving.  After a week in intensive care, the nurses were able to lower his sedatives enough for him open his eyes!  The next day, they removed the ventilator!  A couple days later, he was out of the ICU and sitting up eating on his own!

While I would not go so far as to say my Dad owes his recovery to the Echinacea tonic, I do feel that it was a small part of the reason his condition improved.  I was real impressed with the doctor and the nursing staff we worked with for allowing us to integrate holistic medicine into my Dad's treatment.  I think it will be a more common occurance in the future.