For many thousands of years the lands and waters of Haida Gwaii, an archipelago located off the northern Pacific coast of Canada, 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, Plants of Haida Gwaii is both beautiful and informative.
Nancy Turner is internationally known for her work in ethnobotany, the study of plants and cultures. She is a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria and holds honorary degrees from Vancouver Island University, University of Northern British Columbia and Simon Fraser University and a doctorate from the University of British Columbia. Turner has published over 20 books and dozens of scholarly papers and popular articles. For many years Nancy Turner has worked closely with Indigenous Elders, her teachers, collaborators and friends, to record their knowledge and understanding of plants, ecology and traditional stewardship practices. Working closely with many First Nations, she has helped develop and support programs for retaining, enhancing and promoting the rich heritage of traditional botanical knowledge within communities. Her work with the Haida spans almost 50 years and reflects intimate respect for their traditional ecological knowledge and the uses and importance of plants on Haida Gwaii. She lives in Nanaimo, BC.