Plant use in Kaigani Haida culture: Correction of an ethnohistorical oversight

Abstract

Until recently the use of plants for the precontact cultures of the Northwest Coast has been weakly and sporadically documented. This has led to some misconceptions about the importance of food plants in the precontact diet. This paper documents the use of plants associated with food for the Kaigani Haida of southeast Alaska who were first contacted in 1774, giving the native terms for the plants, and methods of preparation and storage both in precontact and contemporary life. Evidence is offered which indicates that plants were of great importance to the societies of the Northwest Coast and that food plants were more important than has been recognized. A map shows the territory of the Kaigani Haida prior to Euro-American contact, old village sites and the modern village of Hydaburg. Women’s knowledge of plants, their native names, economic use, and method of preparation and storage are offered as evidence that food plants were significantly important to the precontact economy. Nutritional analyses of some of the berries and sprouts indicates that such foods were necessary in the diet in order to maintain healthy, viable populations.

DOI: 10.1007/BF02858592

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Cite this paper

@article{Norton2008PlantUI, title={Plant use in Kaigani Haida culture: Correction of an ethnohistorical oversight}, author={Helen H. Norton}, journal={Economic Botany}, year={2008}, volume={35}, pages={434-449} }