Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Wendy L. Applequist

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Wendy L. Applequist

Associate Curator

Ethnobotanical change in response to cultural disruption: the case of the Crow Creek Reservation.  Applequist collaborated with Karen Walker on a National Geographic Society-funded study of the botany and ethnobotany of the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota that involved multiple undergraduate and high-school students, including an REU student. The Dakota people of the Crow Creek Reservation in central South Dakota, which includes the poorest county in America, were forcibly relocated there from Minnesota; in the late 20th century, much of the low-lying land was flooded by damming of the Missouri River despite the tribe’s objections, wiping out some culturally important species. In previous work, ethnobotanical interviews recorded data from elders and knowledgeable older people on edible and medicinal plants. Preliminary observations are that these data include many uses not recorded from older studies of other Dakota and Lakota groups. We hypothesize that forced dislocations caused the loss of some traditional knowledge that could no longer be applied and the development or adoption from neighbors of new practices. The student participating in this project will formally code use data so that it can be analyzed using simple statistics, and review ethnobotanical literature from other related and neighboring groups to quantify differences between bodies of knowledge. The level of agreement among knowledgeable people, or salience, will also be calculated. Native American students are especially encouraged to apply for this project.

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