The ethnobotany of the Coast Salish Indians of Vancouver Island

Abstract

It is known that the Coast Salish Indians of Vancouver Island used 122 species of plants. Means of collection, preparation, and utilization of these plants are outlined. The role of plants in Salish culture and economy for food, technology, medicine, religion, recreation, linguistics, and migration and settlement patterns is discussed. When possible, phonetic transcriptions are given of Salish names of plants. The ethnobotanies of the Island and related Salish and other Northwest Coast Indian groups are briefly compared. Sixty percent of the plants used by the Western Washington Salish and 20% of the species used by the Thompson Interior Salish were used similarly by the Island Salish. It is concluded that these differences are mainly the result of differences in regional vegetation, extent of trade and inter-group communications, similarity of cultural traits, and the degree of secrecy surrounding use. A map shows the territory of the Vancouver Island Salish and linguistic subdivisions. Summaries of plant uses are given in an Appendix.

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Correspondence to Nancy Chapman Turner.

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This work constitutes an undergraduate thesis of the senior author for the B.Sc. Honours degree in Botany.

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Turner, N.C., Bell, M.A.M. The ethnobotany of the Coast Salish Indians of Vancouver Island. Econ Bot 25, 63–99 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02894564

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Keywords

  • Bark
  • Economic Botany
  • Northwest Coast
  • Salish Group
  • Gulf Island