The Arctic Portal has just come across a plant portal launched by the Gwichin Social and Cultural institute. In 1997 the Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute partnered up with the Aurora Researc Institute (ARI) and commenced work with Gwich'in elders on an ethnobotany project.
The outcome of this cooperation include the book titled Gwich'in Ethnobotany: Plants Used by the Gwich'in for Food, Medicine, Shelter and Tools" by Alestine Andre and Alan Fehr (2002) as well as a masters thesis titled Master's thesis by Alestine Andre (2006) called, Nan t'aihnakwits'inahtsìh (The Land Gives Us Strength). Combined these two bodies of work form the basis for the Gwich'in ethnobotany database.
The plants in the database are divided into two categories which are by their use and by their type and guidlines or recomended on how to treat the land that offers these plants which can be seen below.
Respect for the land:
Important message from our Gwich’in Elders teachings
- Harvest all medicine plants away from roads and communities.
- Take only what you need. It is important to collect only the plant parts you need, pick selectively from different areas and take care not to over harvest from one area.
- Leave an offering for gathering special medicine plants like tamarack, juniper and white moss (reindeer lichen). You may also leave offerings for other plants as a sign of respect. Place an offering like tobacco, wooden matches, or say prayers before and while collecting plant parts. Please note to always place an offering before collecting ochre.
- Share harvested resources such as medicine plants, meat, fish, berries with those not able to obtain these resources for themselves.
- Harvest resources with care, love and respect.
Gwich'in Ethnobotany: Plants Used by the Gwich'in for Food, Medicine, Shelter and Tools" by Alestine Andre and Alan Fehr (2002)