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Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (2-Volume Set): Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America

How knowledge of plants and environments has been applied and shared over centuries and millennia by Indigenous peoples

Series: McGill-Queen's Native and Northern Series Volume: 74

By: Nancy J Turner (Author)

1106 pages, 95 b/w photos, tables

McGill-Queens University Press

Hardback | Oct 2014 | #212459 | ISBN-13: 9780773543805
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £64.99 $79/€72 approx

About this book

Volume 1: The History and Practice of Indigenous Plant Knowledge
Volume 2: The Place and Meaning of Plants in Indigenous Cultures and Worldviews

Nancy Turner has studied Indigenous peoples' knowledge of plants and environments in northwestern North America for over forty years. In Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge, she integrates her research into a two-volume ethnobotanical tour-de-force. Drawing on information shared by Indigenous botanical experts and collaborators, the ethnographic and historical record, and from linguistics, palaeobotany, archaeology, phytogeography, and other fields, Turner weaves together a complex understanding of the traditions of use and management of plant resources in this vast region. She follows Indigenous inhabitants over time and through space, showing how they actively participated in their environments, managed and cultivated valued plant resources, and maintained key habitats that supported their dynamic cultures for thousands of years, as well as how knowledge was passed on from generation to generation and from one community to another.

To understand the values and perspectives that have guided Indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge and practices, Turner looks beyond the details of individual plant species and their uses to determine the overall patterns and processes of their development, application, and adaptation. Volume 1 presents a historical overview of ethnobotonical knowledge in the region before and after European contact. The ways in which Indigenous peoples used and interacted with plants – for nutrition, technologies, and medicine – are examined. Drawing connections between similarities across languages, Turner compares the names of over 250 plant species in more than fifty Indigenous languages and dialects to demonstrate the prominence of certain plants in various cultures and the sharing of goods and ideas between peoples. She also examines the effects that introduced species and colonialism had on the region's Indigenous peoples and their ecologies. Volume 2 provides a sweeping account of how Indigenous organizational systems developed to facilitate the harvesting, use, and cultivation of plants, to establish economic connections across linguistic and cultural borders, and to preserve and manage resources and habitats.

Turner describes the worldviews and philosophies that emerged from the interactions between peoples and plants, and how these understandings are expressed through cultures' stories and narratives. Finally, she explores the ways in which botanical and ecological knowledge can be and are being maintained as living, adaptive systems that promote healthy cultures, environments, and indigenous plant populations. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge both challenges and contributes to existing knowledge of Indigenous peoples' land stewardship while preserving information that might otherwise have been lost. Providing new and captivating insights into the anthropogenic systems of northwestern North America, it will stand as an authoritative reference work and contribute to a fuller understanding of the interactions between cultures and ecological systems.

"This magisterial work – exploring the deep, abiding, and ever-evolving relationships between plants and indigenous peoples – is monumental in its scope and depth. It is authoritative, accessible, full of wonderful anecdotes and stories, and will interest scholars of North American anthropology, geography, botany, and ecology, as well as general readers."
– Thomas F. Thornton, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

"Nancy Turner's books are vital repositories of botanical and cultural lore, but more essentially they are road maps to wonder. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge is clearly her opus, the culmination of more than five decades of research and insight. It is a book that will live on to fire the hearts of generations of scholars and explorers."
– Wade Davis, author of Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures

"Written from a deep love and respect for both people and plants, and an obvious desire for global human cooperation in the face of environmental planetary peril, Turner's message, through over 1000 pages, is simple: "We have to find ways to look after each other."
– Amy Reiswig, FOCUS

"Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge will be an instant classic. It is far more than an ethnobotanical or ecological study of a region in North America. This volume includes both, but they are incorporated into a theoretical structure that will be the methodological basis for all future efforts that attempt a regional overview. It is not just one or two theoretical stances to organize the material, but multiple inter-woven approaches that give this book uniqueness and exceptional importance."
– Richard I. Ford, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan

"Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge is a metaphorical betrothal that begins to unveil the wonder and mysteries of Indigenous knowledge and wisdom such that, if embraced by the wonders and mysteries of Western knowledge and wisdom, it may launch humanity into a future characterized both by oneness and infinite diversity – h?is?ukis? c?awaak, everything is one."
– E. Richard Atleo, author of Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis


Volume One

Figures and Tables ix
Preface and Acknowledgments xv
Note on the Writing System Used in This Book xxxi

1 Introduction to the Book: Ethnobotanical and Ethnoecological Knowledge across Time and Space 3

Part One - History
2 Into the Past: Ancient Relationships among People, Plants, and Environments 43
3 Reflections on Plant Names in Understanding the History of People-Plant Relationships 117
4 Change, Loss, and Adaptation of Plant Traditions 191

Part Two - Development
5 Plants as Food: Development, Diversity, Dissemination 263
6 Plant Use in Technology over Time and Space 335
7 Herbal Medicine and Healing Traditions 415

Appendix 1: Major Sources of Information for the Book 467
Appendix 2: Names of Selected Native Plant Species in Indigenous Languages of Northwestern North America 473
Appendix 3: Names of Two Introduced Plants (Turnip and Potato) in Indigenous Languages of Northwestern North America 507
Notes 515

Volume Two

Figures and Tables ix
Preface xiii

Part Three - Integration and ManaGement
8 Moving for the Harvest: Seasonal Rounds and Plant Knowledge 3
9 Cultural Institutions Related to Ethnobotanical Knowledge and Practice 51
10 Trade and Exchange: Sharing Plant Products and Ethnobotanical Knowledge across Geographical and Cultural Space 101
11 Management and Sustainability of Plant Resources and Habitats 145

Part Four - Underlying Philosophy
12 Narratives in Transmission of Ethnobotanical Knowledge 231
13 Worldview and Belief Systems in Ethnobotanical Knowledge Systems 297
14 Ancient Pathways and New Pathways for Retaining and Renewing Botanical and Environmental Knowledge Systems for the Future 351

Notes 413
References 441
Index of Plant Species 503
General Index 513

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Nancy J. Turner is Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.

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