The 'Lost' Berry Gardens: First Nations' Cultivation on British Columbia's NorthWest Coast

Hamersley Chambers, Fiona - School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

The past decade has seen a dramatic shift in our understanding of how British Columbia (BC) First Peoples managed landscapes and resources. No longer are these Peoples seen as 'passive hunter-gatherers' surviving in pristine natural environments. Rather, they are increasingly recognised as active agents responsible for managing complex ecological systems. Ethnographic evidence suggests that Northwest Coast First Peoples may have cultivated berry plants extensively in 'gardens', using practices such as burning, pruning, transplanting, fertilizing and the application of proprietorship to augment and significantly enhance fruit production. Today, however, few people know how these gardens functioned, or that they even existed. This poster describes my PhD research to identify, name, scientifically study and restore these 'lost' gardens. My poster provides background on the history of berry cultivation in this area, documents our search for the 'lost' berry garden of Roscoe Inlet, and showcases the experimental work I am conducting to test traditional management methods.