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Trail of Story, Travellers' Path: Reflections on by Leslie Main Johnson

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By Leslie Main Johnson

This delicate exam of the meanings of panorama attracts at the author's wealthy adventure with different enviornments and peoples: the Gitksan and Witsuwit'en of norwestern British Columbia, the Kaska Dena of the southern Yukon, and the Gwich'in of the Mackenzie Delta. Johnson continues that the methods humans comprehend and act upon land have broad implications, shaping cultures and methods of existence, deciding upon id and polity, and growing and mainting environmental relationships and economies. Her emphassis on panorama and methods of figuring out the land offers a selected tackle ecological relationships of First Peoples to land.

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Extra info for Trail of Story, Travellers' Path: Reflections on Ethnoecology and Landscape

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Gitksan understanding of land encompasses a mesh of various generic topographic, vegetation, and substrate types (including snow and ice), situated in the context of an overarching perspective of land as owned territories and sites. One can envision the understanding of territory as a series of ‘overlay maps’ that unite diverse knowledge of the land from the perspective of travelling over the land, with named sites serving as the reference points that focus recall. History, spirituality, resource harvesting, and travel through the seasons are all united by a web of trails that traverse or connect named sites.

In my 2000 paper on Gitksan landscape ethnoecology this was a major theme, and is addressed also in Shepard et al. 2001, Shepard et al. 2004, and Mark and Turk 2003. In a sense, this is again a particular aspect of traditional, or local, ecological knowledge and its relationship to Western scientific knowledge. The topic of local landscape knowledge and sustainability has garnered considerable interest (Posey and Balée 1989; Frecchione et al. 1989; Toledo 2002; Martin 1993; E. Anderson 1996; Turner 2005; M.

3). These latter might occur in areas where the uplands away from the river were owned by another Chief. 3 A traditional fishing site on the Skeena River above the village of Ansbayawxs (Kispiox), along the Tenas Hill trail This site is adjacent to the remains of an elevated cache house and cabin or smokehouse, and was figured on a map of fishing sites on the Skeena River above Kispiox compiled in the early twentieth century. M. Johnson. indd 31 3/22/10 10:56:33 PM Trail of Story, Traveller’s Path Named places form a kind of grid, which, like a relational database, links knowledge from many different domains; the sacred and moral, the historical, traditional ecological knowledge about subsistence, and about routes of travel and trade.

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