Ethnobotany at ONC 2022 Science and Culture Camp

Ethnobotany at ONC 2022 Science and Culture Camp

ONC students group photo
ONC Culture and Science Camp 2022 with Elders Ruth Evan and Julia Kanuk!

In late July 2022, the Orutsararmiut Native Council of Bethel organized another successful Culture and Science Camp for students from all over the the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Thanks to the tribe’s collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Kuskokwim Campus, the students earned high school credit and college credit at the same time. the course was developed by Dr. Shannon Atkinson, Professor for UAF Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to give students the opportunity to learn about relevant subsistence practices through the lenses of mainstream academia and Indigenous ways of knowing.

Elder Ruth Evan demonstrating how to eat the ‘juice’ of a willow twig. Left: Nagoonberry, right: root of the highly poisonous water hemlock.

The course focuses on experiential, immersive learning and is taught by Indigenous Elders, other local experts, and college professors. Students engage in a variety of activities such as cutting fish, assembling a seal skeleton and conducting a necropsy on a sea otter. An entire section of the course is dedicated to ethnobotany, the study of human-plant relationships. Students learn about edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, how to make salves, hydrosols, infusions and how to draw plants. Thanks to our amazing team of Elders and instructors, the ethnobotany section of the ONC 2022 camp was a great success!

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