Suomalaiset Marjat (Finnish Berries): A Role for Heritage in Cultivating Ecocultural Relationality

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 11 May, 2017 - 11:30
Abstract Key Words: 
Ethnobotany, Stewardship and Education, Ecocultural relationality
, Marja - The Evergreen State College

In Finnish, “eloheimo” means “clan of the harvest” and “marja” means “berry.” Inspired by the importance of berries among people in Finland, including Indigenous Sámi, I modeled for my students at Evergreen incorporation of heritage studies into the academic program, “Arts, Culture, and Ecology.” Utilizing texts by E.N. Anderson and Nancy J. Turner, we examined cultural ecology broadly, along with specific ethnobotanical knowledge and practice among Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America. Long interested in relationality––understanding and fostering relationships among diverse people (including other-than-human persons) and between people and place––I have previously emphasized the relational potential of an ethnobotanical garden. Now I am observing how exploration of historical and contemporary culture-environment dynamics within one’s own heritage(s)––Native and non-Native alike—can contribute to cultivating ecocultural relationality. This presentation introduces Finnish berries, discusses relationality as paradigm, and considers an example of incorporating heritage exploration into studies of cultural ecology.