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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

New TEK Specialist, Dr. Aaronda Mayo

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Dr. Aaronda Mayo out on one of the latest herb walks looking for medicinal herbs.

This month, EWF is welcoming our newest staff member, Dr. Aaronda-Kay Mayo. She is of Cherokee and Seminole descent, and grew up on a ranch in western Texas, building fences and working with cattle. She learned the importance of rotating grazing pastures, including riding horses to move the cattle from one pasture to another. She built houses and assisted with work on windmills that furnished water for the different pastures.

Growing up, her parents did not take her and her siblings to the doctor for every ailment that came up. She and her siblings were well taken care of at home using natural remedies. This is where her love of natural medicine and the love of nature began.

Later as a young adult, many people did not understand her desire to do things naturally. They ridiculed her and called her derogatory names for not running off to the hospital or doctor every time something came up but instead having an herbal remedy to correct the disease. These actions and words did not destroy her desire to follow the traditional ways, but instead made her determined to learn more about natural healing.

At the suggestion of her surgeon brother-in-law, she obtained her physical therapist degree and license. She continued to suggest natural “home remedies” when patients were unable to take conventional medicine for one reason or another. She had a strong desire to become a doctor for several years and the desire never went away even after practicing as a physical therapist for many years and working in different clinical settings. She decided to formalize her herbal education by completing her Master Herbalist certification from Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing in 2006.

She learned about naturopathic medical schools in her early 30’s. She has many family members in conventional western medicine, but really desired to learn more of the traditional ways of stimulating healing of the body. She set out to become a Naturopathic Doctor and, in 2009, she graduated from Bastyr University in Seattle.

Dr. Mayo practiced as a primary care doctor in Washington State and then as a family doctor in her own practice in Riverton, Wyoming. She and her husband also started the Medicine-Bow Natural Health clinic after her graduation from Bastyr. She gave many free talks about natural medicine to educate the public on what her clinic was all about, which was her main tool for growing her clinic. She also taught weekend classes at Central Wyoming College that focused on medicine that could be made from what most people had in their own kitchen. Her “Kitchen Medicine” class was well received and was filled to capacity every time it was offered. Dr. Mayo also taught a beginning herbal medicine formulation class at the college.

In July, after going through great loss of family and spouse, she decided to literally get back to nature by working at Elderberry Wisdom Farm. Dr. Mayo is currently using Traditional Ecological Knowledge as the framework to help start two businesses: a native plant nursery and a habitat restoration business. Habitat restoration at Elderberry Wisdom Farm involves restoring the native functioning ecosystem through site assessment, invasive plant removal, restoring soil biochemistry, and reintroducing native plant species.

Dr. Mayo shared a few thoughts below:

I am Dr. Aaronda-Kay Mayo. I am of Cherokee and Seminole descent. I am a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor and Master Herbalist. I joined EWF in July and am enjoying my time here with the interns and partners.
I am here to share the gifts Creator has given me for the benefit of all living things here on Mother Earth. I share Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a means for us all to reconnect to the plant nation in a good way and be of benefit to Mother Earth.
I have enjoyed these few weeks as we have begun habitat restoration by removing the invasive species and growing the Oregon native plant species in the EWF greenhouse. Working with a partner on her 55 acre organic farm, having my hands in the soil and caring for the native plant species is very healing in many ways.
I look forward to the future as we at EWF try to assist Indigenous people in their journey to start their own businesses taking care of Mother Earth with traditional Native American values as the foundation.

We are grateful for Aaronda’s presence here at EWF, and are sharing a photo of her at the Oregon coast identifying a plant species with Luna, her four-legged companion. We look forward to sharing more updates in the coming months. Our producer, Sam Forencich, is finalizing a film clip with Aaronda that will appear in our next newsletter and on our website.


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