Ethnobotany of the Northern Cree of Wabasca/Desmarais

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During the summers of 1992/93 field research was conducted on the ethnobotany of Cree people from the community of Wabasca/Desmarais. Though this community was missionized at the tum of the century many of the people continued to live in the surrounding regions practicing more traditional lifestyles. The community has become less isolated since the 1960s when an all-weather road was constructed. Much of the traditional knowledge is no longer used because of access to modern amenities. One of the goals of this ethnobotanical study was to collect traditional knowledge specific to the community from some of the remaining Elders. Though much has been lost already, information recorded provides an interesting perspective on a lifestyle in which many local resources from the boreal forest were relied upon. Far from being a generic, vegetational realm, the boreal forest in northern Alberta is a dynamic, ever-changing environment, requiring extensive knowledge of the landscape as well as the plant and animal species. The entire region of northeastern Alberta has been neglected for environmental research of any kind. This represents an initial study of one community, hopefully others will follow. Information gathered included specific knowledge of plant use both in the present and past. Elders were consulted in informal interviews which were tape-recorded but notes were made as well. None of the Consultants will be identified for the study. Information on 61 plants identified many different uses. Many plants had multiple uses such as white spruce (Picea glauca) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera). Names of plants were recorded in Cree and transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) which provides interesting data for comparative work with other Cree ethnobotanical research.
Bibliography: p. 208-218.
Siegfried, E. V. (1994). Ethnobotany of the Northern Cree of Wabasca/Desmarais (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/13630