Heidi Bohan
Native Plants, Pacific Northwest Ethnobotany, Traditional Knowledge
Permaculture Design, Sustainable Living, People of Cascadia book


Harvesting camas with friend and former husband Ralph Bennett- Haida, at Chehalis Prairie- May 7, 2008

Pacific Northwest Ethnobotany

The first people of the Pacific Northwest lived a rich life from the natural resources of the land. Early descriptions from the first Europeans to enter northwest waters describe a luxurious landscape with meadows and forests filled with edible and useful plants and animals of all kinds.

The people learned how to uses these resources over thousands of years and hundreds of generations of passed on knowledge. They learned that cattail mats are warm and comfortable, perfect for their purpose as mattresses, seating and shelter. Cedar bark and roots are ideal for making strong, resilient baskets. Camas and many other edible roots grew in abundance and could be cultivated as a sustainable crop by burning to keep the forests back and careful harvesting practices. Over 4,000 native plants grewof all kinds provided necessary medicine, food and fiber. 

Though the land has changed much since Europeans arrived and brought their ways to this land the native plants still persist, and understanding their uses, past and present, helps to foster stewardship of these lands.

It is possible to bring these plants into daily life through medicine, foods, and materials such as basketry and carvings. I work towards making this knowledge relevant in today's context, and in the hopes of building appreciation for the culture which formed in this land, and plants and animals who lived with them.

Working with Snoqualmie Tribal youth making plant medicines.