UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian ethnobotany: the knowledge and usage of plants and fungi among the Oweekeno, Hanaksiala (Kitlope and Kemano), Haisla (Kitamaat) and Kitasoo Peoples of the central and north coasts of British Columbia Compton, Brian D.


This thesis deals with botanical knowledge, use and categorization among three Wakashan cultures (Oweekeno, Hanaksiala and Haisla) and a Southern Tsimshian group (Kitasoo) of the Central Coast and North Coast regions of British Columbia. The research has involved the first comprehensive attempt at the documentation of names and cultural roles for fungi and plants among these cultures. Approximately 90 taxa of fungi and plants are known to have had indigenous names and cultural roles in Kitasoo culture, approximately 100 taxa in Oweekeno culture and approximately 180 taxa in the Haisla and Hanaksiala cultures. Detailed accounts of the names and cultural roles of these species are presented. The basic features of Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian folk botanical nomenclature and categorization, as revealed from research among these representative groups, correspond in general with findings resulting from previous studies in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. A general 'plant' term is present in Upper North Wakashan, but lacking from Southern Tsimshian. Life-form categories are generally similar among all the study groups as are several intermediate botanical categories. A somewhat unusual "life-form complex" consisting of "berry bushes" and "berry bushes or any bush" is present in Southern Tsimshian, while a unique "fern" life-form is proposed for Oowekyala, Hanaksiala and Haisla. In both Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian some generic level taxa are seen to represent prototypes of more inclusive life-form categories and intermediate categories. Instances of folk specific categories corresponding to various colour forms of salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) occur among all the study groups. In general, a number of nomenclatural and categorization features are shared by all the study groups despite fundamental and extensive differences between the Wakashan and Tsimshian languages. These similarities have probably arisen from extensive and lengthy cultural contact and interchange between the cultural groups. A map of the study area is provided as are several figures, tables and appendices that contain information pertaining to botanical knowledge, use and categorization among the study groups.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.