ḴEXMIN field station: mission

mid-July seeding of KEXMIN (in green) Lomatium nudicaule

ḴEXMIN, Lomatium nudicaule, seeding (the stalks in green), mid-July in a historic patch along Dallas Road in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria , British Columbia

“We cannot carry out the kind of decolonization our Ancestors set in motion if we don’t create a generation of land-based, community-based intellectuals and cultural producers who are accountable to our nations and whose life work is concerned with the regeneration of these systems rather than meeting the overwhelming needs of the Western academic complex or attempting to ‘Indigenize the academy’ by bringing Indigenous Knowledge into the academy on the terms of the academy itself…The land must again become the pedagogy.” Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 2017[*]

“That the KEXMIN, Indian consumption plant, is a good medicine used to clean and open the way for the pure spirits to come near.”  Tsawout First Nation  

KEXMIN field station is a centre for research & learning spanning traditional indigenous knowledge and contemporary science for environmental planning, ecological design, public art and other forms of contemporary cultural production with a focus on the Salish Sea and its Gulf and San Juan Islands between the mainland of the North American West Coast and Vancouver Island.

[*] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. 2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pages 159-60.

the Salish Sea & Puget Sound as an organism

introduction to the work of ḴEXMIN field station

We are currently developing and discussing a mission statement. While currently active in a range of projects, this work all falls into the blank boxes in the mission matrix below. There is already too much work to be able to insert into these blank boxes.

contact: kexminfieldstation@gmail.com

Gulf Islands snails on the run in a heat wave

2021 August 8 cf Pacific Sideband snail, Monadenia fidelis, Hwmet’utsun, Salt Spring Island * P8080017

Two snails were studied on August 8, 2021 in the Hwmet’utsun conservation area on the wild West Coast of Salt Spring Island in the territory of Cowichan Tribes. After a six week heat wave, linked to climate change, it can be assumed that the native snails of the Gulf Islands could have a difficult time surviving. These two snails could be out and about because there was light rain 36 hours before and there were droplets of rain under the otherwise dry arbutus leaf litter. These snails are probably the most common native snail on the Gulf Islands, the Pacific sideband snail, Monadenia fidelis, but there is a possibility that the second video is of a much rarer, Puget Oregonian snail, Cryptomastix devia (which has a pronounced, curled-up lip on the aperture of the shell). Along with hotter temperatures and more erratic rainfall patterns, native snails are vulnerable to terrestrial acidification from pollution sources nearby and across the North Pacific.

Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations especially for the drier islands around the northern Salish Sea.

Gordon Brent BROCHU-INGRAM, KEXMIN field station, April 9, 2021, The Land We Would Like To Be: Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations around the northern Salish Sea. City and Regional Futures Colloquium, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

harvesting fruit with seed of Pacific crabapples, ḴÁ,EW̱ [SENĆOŦEN], Malus fusca, for ecological restoration and indigenous food sovereignty

Harvesting fruit for planting seed of Pacific crabapples, ḴÁ,EW̱ [SENĆOŦEN], Malus fusca, on the first day of autumn, 2020 September 22, Beaver Point, Salt Spring Island * P1010021

ḴÁ,EW̱ [SENĆOŦEN], Pacific crabapples, Malus fusca, is an important fruit tree throughout the North Pacific region and is recorded from Sequoia National Park in California, mainly along the Pacific coast, to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula (Routson, Volk, Richards, Smith, Nabhan and Wyllie de Echeverria 2012). The extent of the far western extent of this species in the Aleutian Islands remains poorly charted.

Given that Malus fusca sometimes hybridizes with other wild and landrace species in the primary gene pool of cultivated apple, there are a number of east Asian species near adjacent coasts spanning Alaska, Far Eastern Russia, Japan, Korea and China including M. floribunda, M. baccata, M. mandhurica, M. asiatica, M. komarovii, and M. sieboldii. And with aerial pollination some alleles and genotypes move around the North Pacific region — especially along and close to areas with mild maritime climates. And many of these gene flows are vulnerable to climate change and urbanization.

reference
Kanin J. Routson , Gayle M. Volk, Christopher M. Richards, Steven E. Smith, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria. 2012. Genetic Variation and Distribution of Pacific Crabapple. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 137(5): 325–332.

fruit of black hawthorn, MÁT̸ŦEN ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Crataegus douglasii, a week after the peak of sweetness

2020 August 24 Douglas black hawthorn above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island P1010040

An important traditional food tree, black hawthorn, MÁT̸ŦEN ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Crataegus douglasii, (in Canada, Crataegus douglasii var. douglasii) is also ecologically important especially for the nectar and fruit. One of the few seaside areas where this species grows on the Northwest coast of North America is the Gulf and San Juan Islands where this fruit tree established in drier times with colder winters. Consequently, this species was more important to indigenous communities east of the Coast Range.

2020 August 24 Douglas black hawthorn above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island P1010009
This area appears to have been heavily bulldozed twenty to forty years ago with the tracks
collecting sufficient water, on this sunny, south-west facing site, to allow this mesic, wetland
edge species to get established in this early seral stage of succession.

MÁT̸ŦEN ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Crataegus douglasii, (in Canada, Crataegus douglasii var. douglasii), is one of two black hawthorn species on the Gulf and San Juan Islands. This, the smaller species, generally produces more accessible fruit and grows in mesic (damper) areas in drier regions.

2020 August 24 Douglas black hawthorn above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island P1010012

This beautiful small tree is highly adaptable to urban and other degraded landscapes but so far has been rarely used in Coast Salish food sovereignty, permaculture and ecological restoration initiatives.

2020 August 24 Douglas black hawthorn above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island P1010039

Wasps pollinating mid-summer blossoms of snowberry, PEPKIYOS ILĆ[SENĆOŦEN], P’up’q’iyasulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Symphoricarpos albus

2020 August 10 wasp pollinating snowberries, Salt Spring Island

On the Gulf and San Juan Islands in August there are few blooming plants aside from a few asters and some other forbs. So for native wasps, mid-summer blossoms of snowberry, PEPKIYOS ILĆ[SENĆOŦEN], P’up’q’iyasulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Symphoricarpos albus, are a major form of sustenance. In fact, on powerlines near this thicket of snowberry, a large wasp nest has been constructed just in a few weeks.

2020 August 10 wasp pollinating snowberries, Salt Spring Island P1010004

2020 August 10 wasp pollinating snowberries, Salt Spring Island P1010004

In efforts to restore native ecosystems on the Gulf Islands, snowberry has often been overlooked for supposedly being ‘invasive’. Snowberry is an edge and early seral species that will move into native grass and forb lands. But snowberry is part of a group of low precipitation, interior species, more associated with today’s Prairie provinces on the east side of the Rockies. Soon after the last glaciers receded from these lands, possibly as early as over 14,000 years ago, these landscapes, perhaps not all islands as they are now, were dominated by grassland and lodgepole pine woodlands — mostly likely with large thickets of snowberry regularly shaped by large mammals such as mammoth, mastodon, and bison.

2020 August 10 wasp pollinating snowberries, Salt Spring Island P1010003
2020 August 10 wasp pollinating snowberries, Salt Spring Island P1010010

a week from the peak of ripeness, the fruit (drupes) of chokecherry, SC̸ET̸EṈILĆ [W̱SÁNEĆ], Prunus virginiana

2020 August 3 chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, Ruckle Provincial Park * P1010001

Chokecherry, SC̸ET̸EṈILĆ [W̱SÁNEĆ and also used for bitter cherry], Prunus virginiana, is the only wild fruit tree in Canada that is native to every province and territory. On the Gulf and San Juan Islands, this small tree, that sometimes grows to over 10 metres, is a keystone species for numerous pollinators, birds, and humans.

2020 August 3 chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, Ruckle Provincial Park * P1010016

A crucial food and medicine for hundreds of indigenous communities in the northern half of North America, this species is so under-valued in settler horticulture that plants are rarely available in commercial nurseries. Fortunately, the pits are often highly fertile and at an experimental farm plot operated by ḴEXMIN field station, trees planted from drupes just four years ago are already over 2 metres in height and flowered for the first time this spring.

2020 August 3 chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, Ruckle Provincial Park * P1010016

Pink honeysuckle, Qit’a’ [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], KIDE [SENĆOŦEN], Lonicera hispidula, is an ecologically important vine that blooms around the Summer Solstice

2020 June 24 pink honeysuckle Hwmet’utsun P1010075

Pink honeysuckle, Qit’a’uylhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], KIDE, AN ELP [SENĆOŦEN with a diagonal line on the ‘A’ and a horizontal cross on the ‘L’], Lonicera hispidula, is an ecologically important vine that blooms around the Summer Solstice.

2020 June 24 pink honeysuckle Hwmet’utsun P1010120

One of the two most ecologically important vines, pink honeysuckle provides a huge amount of food for pollinators, especially hummingbirds and some insects, at a critical time of year as most plants have flowered for the year, temperatures rise, and the landscape dries out for the coming three months.

2020 June 24 pink honeysuckle Hwmet’utsun P1010120

Adding a deep pink to the landscape as the hue moves from spring greens to summer browns, KIDE [SENĆOŦEN] has powerful cultural roles for the Salish from swings for ghost people to binding people together in love charms.

A wild bee harvesting pollen from the bloom of a wild rose, Rosa cf nutkana, Burgoyne Bay, Salt Spring Island

2020 May 26 bee pollinating Rosa cf nutkana, Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park * P1010129



Larger pollinators often depend on larger flowers. In this case, a relatively large wild bee is harvesting pollen, and perhaps nectar, from this wild rose — just after the peak total spring pollination of most prolific native pollinators on the Gulf and San Juan Islands.

buzz pollination of thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus, by wild bees

Environmental researcher, Dominic Demers on buzz pollination by wild bees of thimbleberry, Ruckle Provincial Park, Salt Spring Island, 2020 May 15 * P1010150


Environmental researcher Dominic Demers on wild bee buzz pollination of thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus