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Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America (Paperback)
  • Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America (Paperback)

Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America (Paperback)

(editor), (editor)
Paperback 384 Pages / Published: 10/10/2005
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The European explorers who first visited the Northwest Coast of North America assumed that the entire region was virtually untouched wilderness whose occupants used the land only minimally, hunting and gathering shoots, roots, and berries that were peripheral to a diet and culture focused on salmon. Colonizers who followed the explorers used these claims to justify the displacement of Native groups from their lands. Scholars now understand, however, that Northwest Coast peoples were actively cultivating plants well before their first contact with Europeans. This book is the first comprehensive overview of how Northwest Coast Native Americans managed the landscape and cared for the plant communities on which they depended.

Bringing together some of the world's most prominent specialists on Northwest Coast cultures, Keeping It Living tells the story of traditional plant cultivation practices found from the Oregon coast to Southeast Alaska. It explores tobacco gardens among the Haida and Tlingit, managed camas plots among the Coast Salish of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, estuarine root gardens along the central coast of British Columbia, wapato maintenance on the Columbia and Fraser Rivers, and tended berry plots up and down the entire coast.

With contributions from ethnobotanists, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, and Native American scholars and elders, Keeping It Living documents practices, many unknown to European peoples, that involve manipulating plants as well as their environments in ways that enhanced culturally preferred plants and plant communities. It describes how indigenous peoples of this region used and cared for over 300 different species of plants, from the lofty red cedar to diminutive plants of backwater bogs.

Publisher: University of Washington Press
ISBN: 9780295985657
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm


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.

* The Midden: Publication of the Archaeological Society of British Columbia *

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.

* Western Folklore *

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.

* Canadian Journal of Archaeology *

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.

* Pacific Northwest Quarterly *

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.

* Salem Statesman Journal *

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