Trade of Plant Products in Northwestern British Columbia – Past, Present, and Future

Burton, Carla M. Symbios Research and Restoration
Philip J. Burton, University of Northern British Columbia

Trade in plant products has been and continues to be an important part of First Nations cultures in northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Today a cash economy often replaces the traditional exchange of goods, but trade in culturally important plant products is still prominent. The trade of selected plant products between the Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Tsimshian and Haida First Nations in the past and as it currently occurs is presented. Traditionally, trade was dependent on plant distribution on each traditional territory.  Today plant distribution continues to play a role in the exchange of species. The basis for current exchange includes historical and familial connections between nations but also includes modern venues such a community (farmers’) markets. Opportunities exist for the sustainable production and expanded marketing of specialized food, medicinal and cultural products. There is local support for continued cottage and First Nations enterprises, and growing concern about commercialization and exploitation by outsiders.