Relationships to Land Over Time in the Traditional Knowledge of Gitxsan and Witsuwit'en, Northwestern British Columbia

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 09:45
Main Johnson
, Leslie - Athabasca University

Historical ecology and ethnoecology overlap in the traditional knowledge and narratives of contemporary indigenous peoples. For this symposium I reflect on kinds of information about past ecological conditions, and past relationships with plants and animals. Gitxsan narratives reveal significant past relationships with animals, located in particular places on the landscape. Other narratives reveal changes in environmental conditions, such as the shrinking of glaciers and snowfields, and embed these in more general contexts.  Looking after the territory is another aspect of historical relationship to the land revealed in the traditional knowledge of Elders I have worked with. Finally, certain highly significant places on the landscape, appear to be Cultural Keystone Places, foci of ancient occupance and oral traditions.  Memory of environmental change or significant events and morally charged messages about proper relationships of people to other species are located in these places.