Ethnobotany of two Cree communities in the southern boreal forest of Saskatchewan
Clavelle, Christina Marie
Studies were conducted at two Cree communities in the southern boreal forest of Saskatchewan, to determine the nature of the interactions between the people and their plant environment. Investigations took the form of informal interviews and observation. As much as possible, plants were collected in order to identify them. Some 46 species, members of 28 families, were identified by respondents as having, or having had in the past, some utility to the people. For the most part, the uses were for healing (36 species). However, 13 species were reportedly used for food or "condiments," two for non-medicinal beverages, and six for miscellaneous uses such as for diapering material, smoking mixtures, hide preparation, or food preservation. Emphasis on plants as healing agents was marked; however, it was not unusual. Such emphasis has also been noted in other ethnobotanical work conducted throughout the boreal forest. Historic references to plant use in the boreal forest were found to be somewhat sparse, though in relatively recent times several ethnobotanies have been compiled in this area. Information from other boreal forest ethnobotanical studies was included for comparative purposes and showed some similarities, but also considerable variation, especially in medicinal applications. Applications of this research include contributions to the preservation of traditional knowledge, an expansion of the ethnobotanical database, and the application of ethnobotanical information to interpreting the boreal forest archaeological record.