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

ḴEXMIN, Lomatium nudicaule, a species with deep cultural, medicinal & nutritional significance to Salish communities

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240014 photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

 
 
 
 
 
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blooming ḴEXMIN, late spring in Lək̓ʷəŋən Territory, Vancouver Island

2019 2019 May 27 Lomatium nudicaule just beginning to flower, Lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Vancouver Island P1010022

Two of the most important Salish plants just coming into bloom: ḴEXMIN (yellow flowers) and camas, Camassia spp, in a traditional Lekwungen agricultural, gathering, and stewardship site, 2019 April 25 Lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Vancouver Island P4250100

ḴEXMIN [SENĆOŦEN], Lomatium nudicaule, just south of the  1852 Indian Reserve line set (under severe threat of imperial violence) for the W̱SÁNEĆ, north of Island View Beach, Central Saanich, Vancouver Island

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands, Vancouver Island  P9240083

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240017

“One ceremonially prized plant, ‘wild celery’ (Lomatium nudicaule), was, and is still today, widely used and sought for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, and its seeds used as gifts. Some contemporary Northwest Coast peoples are careful to leave wild celery seeds behind, or to scatter seeds (when gathering medicines) to ensure it’s continuation, and this seems a likely candidate as a species that was managed and whose range has been extended through past human intervention. This attribution of a ‘spirit’ within all of nature’s creations, and of the powers of plants to affect human lives and human well-being, is another reflection of, and reason for, peoples’ stewardship of the plants they depend upon…” (Douglas Deur and Nancy J. Turner. 2005. Conclusions. in Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. Douglas Deur and Nancy J. Turner (eds). Vancouver: UBC Press / Seattle: University of Seattle Press. pages 331 – 342. quote from pages 334 – 335 )

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240028 This population is highly vulnerable to ongoing sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into roots.

In addition, the 2020 COVID19 pandemic has compelled herbalists to highlight the exceptional power of Lomatium  species as traditional and settler medicine for treating lung and viral disorders.

celebrating Earth Day through learning from black hawthorn, Crataegus suksdorfii, especially its importance to pollinators & ecological persistence across western North America

2021 April-21 black hawthorn, Crataegus suksdorfii, in a grove adjacent to KEXMIN field
station that has been re-establishing for several decades after a century of intensive goat
and sheep grazing P4210007

For the second year in a row, we are celebrating Earth Day at KEXMIN field station, on the Gulf Islands of south-western Canada, through learning from black hawthorn, MÁT̸ŦEN ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN] / Metth’unulhp [Hul’q’umi’num’], Crataegus suksdorfii, one of a number of disappearing native fruit trees. This species currently grows from northern British Columbia and Haida Gwaii to northern California and then across the Rockies to Lake Superior. We have much to learn about how these trees persist, recolonize and can be protected and better restored including through field research combined with social strategies rooted in contemporary culture.

the ecosystem pulses from the irregular fruiting cycles of arbutus, madrone, Arbutus menziesii

arbutus fruit above Weston Lake, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 10 * P1010024

These island ecosystems are profoundly structured around the pulses of food from the irregular fruiting cycles of dominant hardwood trees such as arbutus, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], madrone, Arbutus menziesii — as well as Garry oak.

arbutus fruit above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 13 * P1010074

In recent decades at the northern end of its distribution, arbutus has tended to flower and fruit every three years but the last time there was such an exceptional level of arbutus berries was six years back.

These years of plenty are particularly important for birds such as band-tailed pigeon, HEMU [SENĆOŦEN], Patagioenas fasciata. Peaks in cycles of Garry oak acorns, another dominant in a specific kind of ecosystem, are typically, but not necessarily, on other years. “The species [band-tailed pigeon] is listed as Special Concern under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.”

arbutus fruit, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010094
arbutus berries, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010111

Plant native trees associated with south-facing sites every October

Seeds of three native trees often dominant to south-facing sites are best planted in the autumn. 2020 October 6 P1010052

Three trees native to the Gulf and San Juan Islands are far more common and often dominant on south-facing sites:


Garry oak / Oregon white oak, ĆEṈÁLĆ [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Quercus garryana;

arbutus / madrone, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Arbutus menziesii; and

Pacific crabapple, ḴÁ,EW̱ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qwa’up-ulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Malus fusca.

The red seeds on the black plate are arbutus, the brown are acorns, and the smaller yellow fruit are Pacific crab-apples. The larger yellow fruit are from a volunteer crab-apple that may well have hybridized with local populations of Malus fusca or more probably another Eurasian apple cultivar.

Late September and October, after days of rains, is the best time to plant these seeds and respective seedlings.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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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.

a large and scattered grove of seaside juniper, PETEṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, on S,DÁYES (Pender Island) including two trees with nearly ripe berries

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010004
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.
The smoky sky was due to the Oregon fires.

There is a landscape in the centre of North Pender Island evocative of the grasslands with lodgepole pines, with bison and mastodon, soon after the retreat of the glaciers roughly 14,000 b.p.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010055
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.

While this endemic, island species of juniper, PETEṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, is relatively rare throughout its range, there are over ten trees scattered in this landscape with this pine-grassland exceptionally rare on the Gulf Islands and evocative of central British Columbia or further north.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010044
This was one of two of ten individuals in this landscape with ripening berries.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010060
This was one of two of ten trees in this landscape with ripening berries.

Of these junipers, only two were fruiting with the aromatic berries perhaps a month from the peak of ripeness.

Seaside juniper, Pender Island 2020 September 17 * P1010001
This was one of only two out of ten juniper trees, that all appeared to be under fifty years old, with ripening berries. The smoky sky was due to the Oregon fires. Surrounding these
junipers was mesic grassland with old lodgepole pines and young Douglas fir trees.

seaside juniper, PET̸EṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, is endemic to the drier islands of the Salish Sea and was used to ward off disease

seaside juniper, Tsawout lands, Saanich, Vancouver Island 2020 August 7 P1010017

Seaside juniper, PET̸EṈILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Juniperus maritima, is endemic to the Gulf and San Juan Islands and the adjacent Olympic Range. This is one of the rarest of the North American juniper species. The Salish relied on this conifer to to ward off disease.

seaside juniper, Tsawout lands, Saanich, Vancouver Island 2020 September 10 P1010002

This relatively young juniper, probably less than fifty years old, is on Tsawout, W̱SÁNEĆ, territory near the beach south of the southern line of the 1852 treaty. This mosaic of dunes, marsh and meadow is vulnerable to the rapid sea level rise taking place on the south-east coast of the Saanich Peninsula.

seaside juniper along Burgoyne Bay in the Hwmet’utsun protected landscape,
Salt Spring Island, 2020 September 13 P1010003 The juniper is in the centre of
the image with a young arbutus (madrone) on the left and a young Douglas fir
on the right. This juniper is probably twice or three times the age of this arbutus
and fir tree. This is the more typical form and habitat of seaside juniper though
are larger bush forms that grow near shorelines as well.

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