Ethnobotany

Collecting sour dock, Photo by Sarah Betcher

Collecting sour dock near Kotzebue, Photo by Sarah Betcher

Ethnobotany of Northwest Alaska: Preserving Traditional Knowledge and Engaging Alaska Native Students in STEM

Ethnographic filmmaker Sarah Betcher has produced a series designed to teach viewers about the many traditional Alaskan indigenous ways of using wild plants for food, medicine, and construction material.

Funded by NSF grant #1546438 to Steffi Ickert-Bond (PI) and Sarah Betcher (Co-PI).

Watch the whole video series here

This is a small RAPID project, co-funded with the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program, EHR Directorate, to utilize the extensive video footage and qualitative data collected through Elder interviews and participatory ethnography in 2013 and 2014, for the production of a series of short topic oriented films on the ethnobotanical knowledge of Alaska Native peoples. This extensive ecological knowledge is at risk of loss as the pressures of globalization affect food sources and food choices by Alaska Native peoples. The ethnobotanical knowledge recorded through this project is one key to long-term food security in the Arctic. In addition, the films will support the teaching of science as interdisciplinary knowledge embedded in cultures and issues in the real world. These methods have been shown at Tribal college programs to support STEM learning, which increases the success of Native American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students in science.

Woman at culture festival in Lavrentiya, Chukotka Region

Woman exchanging pickled plants and whale meat at culture festival in Lavrentiya, Chukotka Region.