For many thousands of years the lands and waters of Haida Gwaii have been home to the Haida. Plants of Haida Gwaii, written with the cooperation and collaboration of Haida knowledge holders and botanical experts, is a detailed and insightful record of the traditional uses of over 150 species of native plants. Moreover, it explains the systems of knowledge and understanding that enabled the Haida to use the resources of their islands sustainably from one generation to the next over millennia.
The Haida names of these plants indicate their importance, as do the many narratives featuring them. From the ts’uu—massive western red-cedars—of the forests which provide wood used for canoes, house posts, poles and boxes, and bark carefully harvested for weaving mats, baskets and hats, to the ngaal—tough, resilient fronds of giant kelp—used to harvest herring eggs, the botanical species used by the Haida are found from the ocean to the mountain tops, and are as important today as ever before. With over 250 photographs and illustrations, this book is both beautiful and informative.
Nancy J. Turner is an ethnobotanist, and Distinguished Professor Emerita, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Canada. She has worked with First Nations elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 50 years, helping to document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and environments, including Indigenous foods, materials and traditional medicines. Her two-volume book, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (July, 2014; McGill-Queen’s University Press), integrates her long term research. She has authored or co-authored/co-edited 30 other books, including: Plants of Haida Gwaii; The Earth’s Blanket; “Keeping it Living” (with Doug Deur); Saanich Ethnobotany (with Richard Hebda), and Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples, and over 150 book chapters and papers. Her latest edited book is Plants, People and Places: the Roles of Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology in Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights in Canada and Beyond (2020). She has received a number of awards for her work, including membership in Order of British Columbia (1999) and the Order of Canada (2009), honorary degrees from University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia and Vancouver Island and Simon Fraser Universities.
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