Gifted Earth: The Ethnobotany of the Quinault and Neighboring Tribes

Douglas Deur, Portland State University

Published by Oregon State University Press


Possibly the most comprehensive and user-friendly ethnobotanical guidebook available in the Pacific Northwest, Gifted Earth features traditional Native American plant knowledge, detailing the use of plants for food, medicines, and materials. It presents a rich and living tradition of plant use within the Quinault Indian Nation in a volume collaboratively developed and endorsed by that tribe.

While this guide centers on a single Native American nation, its focus is not narrow. The Quinault Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state is a diverse tribal community, embodying the traditional knowledge of tribes along the entire Pacific Northwest coast. Its membership consists of descendants of many tribes, from the northwestern Olympic Peninsula to the northern Oregon coast, who were relocated to Quinault in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries— including Chinooks, Chehalis, Quileute, Hoh, Tillamooks, Clatsops, and others. Individuals descended from each of these tribal communities have contributed to the current volume, giving it remarkable breadth and representation.

A celebration of enduring Native American knowledge, this book will help non-specialists as they discover the potential of the region’s wild plants, learning how to identify, gather, and use many of the plants that they encounter in the Northwestern landscape. Part ethnobotanical guide and part “how-to” manual, Gifted Earth also prepares plant users for the minor hazards and pitfalls that accompany their quest—from how to avoid accidentally eating a bug hidden within a salal berry to how to avoid blisters when peeling the tender stalks of cow parsnip.

As beautiful as it is informative, Gifted Earth sets the tone for a new generation of ethnobotanical guides that are informed by the values, vision, and voice of Native American communities eager to promote a sustainable, balanced relationship between plant users and the rich plant communities of the Pacific Northwest.