Anthropology Presentation - Plant Stewardship in the Precontact Pacific Northwest

by Green & Gold News  |   

Join the Department of Anthropology, Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Beatrice McDonald Hall, Room 119 from 4-5:15 p.m. for a presentation on plant stewardship in the precontact Pacific Northwest.

Numerous oral histories and substantial ethnographic evidence illustrate how plant species, communities, and even landscapes were extensively managed and cared for by ancestral communities in the Pacific Northwest. Camas (Camassia spp.) is one such cultural keystone plant, common from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, with numerous records describing its role as a staple food for many Northwest peoples. Supporting deep time archaeological evidence for such management or stewardship practices, however, has remained elusive. In this presentation I draw on niche construction and traditional ecological knowledge to synthesize Holocene relationships between people and camas throughout the Northwest.

I integrate paleoethnobotanical, palaeoclimatological, and geoarchaeological methodologies and datasets to demonstrate people began deliberately managing camas at approximately 3,500 BP by selectively harvesting mature plants. These findings confirm and expand upon Native knowledges as well as offer time-tested methods for cultural keystone conservationists seeking to revitalize traditional plant stewardship practices throughout this region and beyond.

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