Adam Canter, Botanist, Table Bluff Rancheria

Recently United Indian Health Service provided a conference for health care providers throughout the U.S. entitled, Hands on Health.  I finagled an invitation to attend what was the best, most interesting conference ever.  With all of the topics given a hands on focus, this mode of learning was right up my alley.

One presentation I truly enjoyed was a walk through some of the common areas of the Table Bluff Rancheria.  High atop a bluff in Loleta, it is stunning land — but on closer examination with the help of Botanist Adam Canter, I was able to see that the lush green fields were filled with mostly non-native species, many of which were noxious weeds!  Adam told us how they are working to restore native foods in that region – one of these foods was what is commonly referred to as Indian Potatoes.  These “potatoes” are actually several different species of bulbing plants, which are very tiny, and required many hours of baking to yield food.

I talked to Adam about how I recently began reading Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson — it turns out that she is his mentor!  If you grew up with the myth that California Indian people lucked into a rich land of plenty and basically wandered around eating the lovely edibles that just happened to be there, get ready to have your paradigm shaken.   Kat does a wonderful job explaining much of the data that exists about how California Indians shaped this land and worked in concert with nature to bring about the world that white people entered.  Because Indian people have not had the opportunity to interact with the land in the same way in the past century, so much has changed.  There is so much to say about that — but M. Kat Anderson says it way better than I could — so I encourage you to read her book.

I also encourage you to listen to the interviews with Adam Canter, Part 1 and Part 2

This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

 

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