Wednesday, 8 October 2008: 4:35 PM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 370EF
Adam Dick, Kwaxsistala, is a hereditary clan chief of the Tsawataineuk tribe of the Kwakwaka'wakw of the central coast of British Columbia. His people and other Indigenous Peoples of western North America are often called “hunter-gatherers,” with the implication that they simply took what resources they could find from the land and the sea. Contrary to this perspective, however, their food production was far from random or opportunistic. Over thousands of years, the Kwakwaka'wakw and other peoples of the region have developed a range of effective strategies for maintaining and enhancing their foods, from salmon and clams, to berries, greens and root vegetables. In fact, the intensive production of these resources by Adam Dick and his ancestors can be considered a form of sustainable cultivation. The special places people created and tended represent unique gardens: clam gardens, root gardens and berry gardens. Despite the myriad changes and impacts to indigenous lifeways that have occurred in the past 60 years, the “wild gardens” of Adam's childhood are still evident today, and collectively, they give a hint about an amazing, sophisticated, integrated food production system that sustained both the people and the other lifeforms for millennia. Today, with the help of Adam and other knowledgeable elders, efforts are underway to better understand these gardens and, eventually, to restore and renew them as sources of healthy traditional food.