The European explorers who first visited the Northwest Coast ofNorth America assumed that the entire region was virtually untouchedwilderness whose occupants used the land only minimally, hunting andgathering shoots, roots, and berries that were peripheral to a diet andculture focused on salmon. Colonizers who followed the explorers usedthese claims to justify the displacement of Native groups from theirlands. Scholars now understand, however, that Northwest Coast peopleswere actively cultivating plants well before their first contact withEuropeans. This book is the first comprehensive overview of howNorthwest Coast Native Americans managed the landscape and cared forthe plant communities on which they depended.
Bringing together some of the world's most prominent specialistson Northwest Coast cultures, Keeping It Living tells the storyof traditional plant cultivation practices found from the Oregon coastto Southeast Alaska. It explores tobacco gardens among the Haida andTlingit, managed camas plots among the Coast Salish of Puget Sound andthe Strait of Georgia, estuarine root gardens along the central coastof British Columbia, wapato maintenance on the Columbia and FraserRivers, and tended berry plots up and down the entire coast.
With contributions from ethnobotanists, archaeologists,anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, and Native American scholarsand elders, Keeping It Living documents practices, manyunknown to European peoples, that involve manipulating plants as wellas their environments in ways that enhanced culturally preferred plantsand plant communities. It describes how indigenous peoples of thisregion used and cared for over 300 different species of plants, fromthe lofty red cedar to diminutive plants of backwater bogs.
Of all the ways that B.C.’s aboriginal people have been imagined, represented, described, and understood, the one characterization that has persisted is the idea that they just weren’t the sort of people who transformed landscapes the way Europeans did. They didn’t cultivate plants or tend crops ... That last and most persistent misapprehension was already entrenched as a tenet of academic faith in the earliest days of Northwest Coast anthropology but is only now being thoroughly reconsidered, thanks largely to Nancy J. Turner, a U.Vic ethnobotanist of boundless energy and curiosity. For her efforts, Turner is beloved among dozens of British Columbia’s aboriginal communities. With Keeping It Living, Turner and co-editor Douglas Deur of the University of Washington have mustered a broad body of evidence that is a full-on assault upon the hunter-gatherer orthodoxy. Joined by a dozen other academics whose contributions enliven this book, Turner and Deur present a picture of aboriginal life that is utterly different from the sort found in the conventional literature.
Rarely does a collection of essays provide a cohesive and convincing argument, but Keeping it Living accomplishes this admirably ... Undoubtedly, this fine collection can be used by other scholars to consider later developments.
This treatment of historically neglected yet compelling topics provides a welcome contribution to the literature on the subject…[the book] is written in a manner that should appeal to a wide range of readers, including many who will appreciate its regional approach. Those with interests in ethnobotany, indigenous American studies, general history, and most importantly with a desire to more fully comprehend the pre-contact realities of human landscape interactions and what they mean today for the future, will surely find this book of much value.
The significance of plants to the aboriginal cultures of the Northwest Coast of North America often takes a back seat to the iconic salmon. Keeping it Living ... brings these essential resources to the forefront.
To extol the merits of all the essays and case studies in this valuable work is beyond the limits of a brief review, but the volume is a necessary read for anyone interested in food research, ethnobotany, anthropology of food and folk foodways, and cultural representation. The excellent bibliography is a valuable resource for the intellectual history of First Nations peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
Douglas Deur and Nancy Turner marshal a strong collection of essays to attack the argument that indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast were purely hunter-gatherer cultures, devoid of agricultural practices because of their good fortune to occupy a resource-laden landscape. Keeping It Living is an important book that will appeal to scholars interested in Northwest Coast peoples and Native American ethnobotany in general.
This book is the first comprehensive examination of how the first people to inhabit what is now the Pacific Northwest managed the land on which they lived.
In beginning to correct a profound historical error in Northwest Coast anthropology and sister disciplines, many doors have been opened for future scholarship that re-examines the cultivation practices of coastal First Nations. As the editors acknowledge, this work will keep the knowledge of Northwest Coast Elders and their forebears alive for present and coming generations. Keeping it Living should be essential reading for all people interested in the history of the Northwest Coast.
Preface / E. Richard Atleo, Umeek of Ahousat
1. Introduction: Reassessing Indigenous Resource Management,Reassessing the History of an Idea / Douglas Deur and Nancy J.Turner
Part I. Concepts
2. Low-Level Food Production and the Northwest Coast / Bruce D.Smith
3. Intensification of Food Production on the Northwest Coast andElsewhere / Kenneth M. Ames
4. Solving the Perennial Pardox: Ethnobotanical Evidence for PlantResource Management on the Northwest Coast / Nancy J. Turner andSandra Peacock
5. "A Fine Line Between Two Nations": Ownership Patternsfor Plant Resources among Northwest Coast Indigenous Peoples /Nancy J. Turner, Robin Smith, and James T. Jones
Part II. Case Studies
6. Coast Salish Resource Management: Incipient Agriculture? /Wayne Suttles
7. The Intensification of Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia) by theChinookan People of the Lower Columbia River / MelissaDarby
8. Documenting Precontact Plant Management on the Northwest Coast:An Example of Prescribed Burning in the Central and Upper FraserValley, British Columbia / Dana Lepofsky, Douglas Hallett, KenLertzman, Rolf Mathewes, Albert (Sonny) McHalsie, and KevinWashbrook
9. Cultivating in the Northwest: Early Accounts of TsimshianHorticulture / James McDonald
10. Tlingit Horticulture: An Indigenous or Introduced Development? /Madonna L. Moss
11. Tending the Garden, Making the Soil: Northwest Coast EstuarineGardens as Engineered Enrivonments / Douglas Deur
Part III. Conclusions
12. Conclusions / Douglas Deur and Nancy J. Turner
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