Sharing Culture through Plants - Field Book Project

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Tuesday, 28 February 2012


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Sven, what an amazing addition your comments are! Please thank your mother and the other elder for sharing their information and confirming what Fisher recorded. It means a lot to us that we can help to put you together with these resources and regain the knowledge from the elders of Fisher's time. By cataloging Fisher's notes and other biodviersity notes, we hope that stories like yours become the norm. Please continue to share if you make more discoveries!

Sven Haakanson

Thank you for posting this. To see and read Fishers notes is wonderful. Living on Kodiak Island now I printed out the notes and shared them with my mother and another elder to compare the words and also what they knew about the plants. They were able to identify and confirm what Fisher wrote in three of the notes.

Saranak or "La-giit" or in today's spelling "laaqaq" they said they use to collect the rice for elders to who would boil and eat them in the winter. But you had to get them before the mice did.

Brussnika or "knich-tat or as it is written today "kenegtaq" low bush cranberry was used with seal oil and fish eggs.

Kalina or A-mach-shat" or as it is written today "amaryaq" lowbush cranberry was used for sore throats and not just use sugar but honey.

The Shickasiyk "at-tshak-kudach-piet" was so far unidentifiable so far. I have seen this plant and was never able to find the traditional name. Now that we have a general name we can learn more. So even ones where we can't id it will help us come closer to the original name.

As you can read from the spelling Fisher was transliterating the sounds and from talking with elders and reading the Russian we can slowly decipher the words. The use of each plant has not changed and by asking the elders without telling them what he wrote they were able to verify this.
To hear our elders confirm the notes and also share how the plants, berries and bark were used was fun. I look forward to hearing back from you to learn more and help return some of the knowledge that has nearly disappeared from our Island.

Thank you for posting this.

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The Field Book Project is an initiative to increase accessibility to field book content that documents natural history. Through ongoing partnerships within and beyond the Smithsonian Institution, the Project is making field books easier to find and available in a digital format for current research, as well as inspiring new ways of utilizing these rich information resources.
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