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Ethnobotanical Conversations Along the Bayou

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Ethnobotanical Conversations Along the Bayou

  1. 1. An exercise in Participatory Action Research (PAR) blending Traditional EcologicalKnowledge (TEK) and geospatial information systems to identify vulnerable plant species valued by southern Louisiana’s coastal Native American tribesChief Chuckie, PACIT, discussing plants Elderberry Community Liaison Jamie Berdin in Pointe au Chien Frances Roberts-Gregory Spelman College 2 nd Year SOARS Protégé UNO-CHART July 27th, 2012
  2. 2. Objectives Establish rapport using PAR   Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT)  Isle de Jean Charles Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha- Choctaw Confederation of Muskogees (BCCM)  Grand Caillou/Dulac Bands of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Choctaw Confederation of Muskogees (BCCM) Design appropriate mixed methods methodology Le Jardín des Traíteurs at La Maíson Acadíenne Identify vulnerable plant species Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park Historic Cajun/Creole Village Healer’s Garden Explore intergenerational ethnobotanical knowledge transfer Investigate historical, current, and future implications of geomorphological change and climate change Generate interest in preservation of both traditional plants and local knowledge  Community garden revitalization 1948 Isle de Jean Charles Traiteur Joseph Bud Naquin Gardening
  3. 3. Operationalization  Ethnobotany  study of relation between plants and people Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)  indigenous and local knowledge, practice and belief concerning the use and maintenance of natural resources that integrates the physical and spiritual into a holistic cosmology Participatory Action Research (PAR)  applied, experimental research that promotes a collaborative information gathering process between researchers and the people for their direct empowerment and benefit Grounded Theory  social scientific methodology to discover theory throughout course of research through analysis of data Mixed Methods Approach  research methodology that combines both qualitative and quantitative approaches
  4. 4. Context  Figure 1 Land/Water Ratio in 1956 Figure 2 Land/Water Ratio in 1978 Figure 3 Land/Water Ratio in 2008 Location:  Endangered local plant species richness  Southern part of Terrebonne and  Changing weather patterns Lafourche Parishes along Bayou  Storm surge and flooding Pointe-au-Chien and Bayou  Hurricanes Terrebonne  Land loss, subsidence, saltwater Lack of Federal Tribal Recognition intrusion and coastal erosion Threatened TEK  Manmade canals and oil pipelines  Historic suppression of Cajun French/Native American  Contamination and pollution culture and language  Lack of fresh water  Loss of traiteurs (faith healers)  Reduction of barrier islands  Loss of plants  Hotter temperatures
  5. 5. Ideal Methodology: Mixed Methods  iPhone used in fieldwork Materials and Supplies Frances Roberts-Gregory and Science Mentor Andrew Barron at BTNEP Accomplishments Future Directions• Participatory Action Research • Incorporation of local soil• Conversations types, elevation and geographical• Semi-structured interviews coordinates of localities where plant • Intergenerational knowledge species are still found • Elders and traiteurs • Participatory Mapping• Atlas-TI software • Cross-reference historical documents • Qualitative Data Analysis Software with geographical range maps• Integration of ethnobotanical knowledge housed in the USDA Plant Resource with long-term scientific projections Database and participatory maps• Vegetation Maps using Arc GIS software
  6. 6. Participatory Action Research • Community defines goals of project • Cyclical; not straightforward  • • Flexibility, trust, honesty Transparency and openness • Communication • Co-learning • Decolonization • Commitment against harm • Value local knowledge • Inclusion of entire community • Consideration of time • Utilization of familiar settings • Sharing of research • Implementing knowledge to solve problems • Emancipatory • Democratic • Collaborative • Conscientization
  7. 7. Coastwide Reference Monitoring System  Figure 3 Vegetative Types in 1949 Figure 4 Vegetative Types in 2007Over time, saltwater intrusion and rapid land loss has led to the retreat of freshwater marshes (represented in green) and theconversion of once fertile agricultural and forested lands to open seawater (represented in dark blue). Many plants cannot growwithout suitable freshwater inputs and soil. All three communities are now dominated by saline vegetative types (represented inred) and located far away from freshwater vegetative types. Healing plants have all but disappeared from many of the communities.Cancer, rare diseases and other health ills are common in the region due to genetic, environmental and social factors.
  8. 8. USDA Plant Database  The USDA Plant Database contains the geographic ranges of many plants species found in North America. Unfortunately, the data provided is not mapped at a fine enough resolution to capture species change and land loss in the Bayou communities. According to the map pictured here, bitter melon should be found in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish. However, according to local residents, bitter melon has Bitter Melon disappeared from the region. We hope Mexicain our research can contribute to more Momordica charantia accurate maps drawn at finer scales.“Our county data are based primarily on the literature, herbarium specimens, and confirmed observations.However, not all populations have been documented, so some gaps in the distribution shown above may not bereal. Remember that only native and naturalized populations are mapped!”- USDA Plant Database Website
  9. 9. USDA Plant Database  Red Bay Bristle Mallow Bitter Melon Petit Laurier Mauve Mexicain Persea borbonia Modiola caroliniana Momordica charantia Sassafras Black Nightshade Hackberry/Sugarberry Gombo Filé Morelle Bois Connu Sassafras albidum Solanum americanum Celtis L.“Our county data are based primarily on the literature, herbarium specimens, and confirmed observations.However, not all populations have been documented, so some gaps in the distribution shown above may not bereal. Remember that only native and naturalized populations are mapped!”- USDA Plant Database Website
  10. 10. Medicinal/Culturally ValuablePlants Still Found in the Bayous (Limited/Scarce)  Cactus Hackberry Basil Isle de Jean Charles Pointe au Chien Pointe au Chien Spanish Moss Fig Cattails Dulac Pointe au Chien Dulac
  11. 11. Perils of Fieldwork 
  12. 12. Voices from the Community  Deputy Chief Crystlyn Rodrigue Community Partner “I see a day when holistics will be tested, controlled and regulated…we should practice this right and freedom before they attempt to take even that away…when we have to rely on others to care for us we will truly not get the proper care we deserve to preserve the knowledge of our ancestors.” - Jamie Berdin (PACIT) “Plants are highly important to our existence. We depend on the trees for air and many other plants provide our food and medicine. We must protect each precious one for we cannot exist without them.” - Chief Shirell Parfait Dardar (Grand/Caillou Dulac) “We figured out very quickly that to fully understand the plants we also had to understand the people that used them. We visited elders and younger members that were able to explain plants that were and still are available and what they were used for. It was evident that we have lost much, but that there was hope to bring lost plants back to our people…..It is crucial that we try and develop a plan to save the healing plants we still have and bring back the ones we have lost. We didnt have enough time to fix the problem, but it has given us a good start. Thank you for caring!” – Deputy Chief Crystlyn Rodrigue (Grand/Caillou Dulac)
  13. 13. Conclusion: Does No Land = No Plants = No Culture? NO!!!  Chris Brunet in Isle de Jean Charles Shucking peas in Pointe au ChienIsle de Jean Charles 1970s Isle de Jean Charles 2012 Chief Albert Naquin and Family in Isle de Jean Charles Archival Research
  14. 14. Conclusion: Community Resiliency • Individuals and Communities have Agency• Culture Sits in Places but is Complex and Changes over Time• Steps can be taken NOW to prevent further land loss and rediscover/preserve Traditional Ecological Knowledge • Awareness Campaigns • Indigenous Rights and the United Nations • Technical Solutions + Policy Solutions • Interdisciplinary Science + Native Science • Inclusion in Levies • Respect Indigenous Property Rights • Community Empowerment • Mitigation + Adaptation • Grants and Fundraising • Need for Community Management and Council Approval of Total Group Relocation to Higher Ground for Isle de Jean Charles Community
  15. 15. Elevated Raised BedGardens in Grand Bayou  Potential Solutions  2010-11 Coastal Garden Collaborative  14 (4x3x15’) elevated container gardens  Model for other communities  HESCO-BASTION containers  provides a barrier which helps protect against erosion and flooding  reduces the effect of storm surge  Tree plantings  provide habitat for wetland and migratory birds as well as edible and medicinal plants for communities  Educational Tool
  16. 16. Future Directions  Transcription and Coding Nazia Dardar Gardening in Pointe au Chien• Extend Project • Community Learning Opportunities • Historical Cross-referencing • Language Classes • Multiple Community • Walking Tours Liaisons • Learning Aids • Group Sessions • Community Gardening • Transcription of Data • Eat 4 Health Grant (Obtained!) • Atlas.ti • Recognize Climate Justice Communities • Arc GIS • Environmental Justice (EJ) issues • Soil Data and Coordinates • Long Term Investment Needed • Validation of Results • More Inclusion in Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan
  17. 17. Future Directions  Environmental Protection Agency Utilizing Environmental Justice View
  18. 18. Future Directions  Creating Personalized Habitat Maps in Arc GIS
  19. 19. Thank You!  Diversity Gathering Room Panel2012 Rural Sociological Society 75th Annual Meeting Chicago, Illinois
  20. 20. Acknowledgements 
  21. 21. Acknowledgements This work was performed under the auspices of theSignificant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science Program. "SOARS is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and is funded by theNational Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, and by the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes .“

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