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May 01, 2002

NETTLES TO NINEBARK: Native People and Plants in the Pacific Northwest

Lecture and Tour of the Erna Gunther Ethnobotanical Garden
Hosted by: Dr. Susan Libonati-Barnes, Garden Curator
Sat. May 11, 2002 at 1:00 pm

Seattle - Many visitors to the Burke Museum walk right past the plantings along the periphery of the building on their way inside to visit the dinosaurs and cultural artifacts- not realizing that the gardens they are passing are rich with meaning and history. On Saturday, May 11, 2002, join garden curator Susan Libonati-Barnes for a lecture and illuminating walk through the Burke's Erna Gunther Ethnobotanical Garden.

Ethnobotany is the study of plant lore. Many Northwest Coast peoples used, and still use, various native plants for food, medicine, and as the raw materials for houses, canoes, clothing, ceremonial artworks, tools and utensils. The Gunther Ethnobotanical Garden displays more than 100 plant species from both sides of the Cascades. You'll see living wetland basketry plants like tule, beargrass, and cattail; sword fern used by the Swinomish to soothe sore throats; salal chewed by the Quinault to relieve heartburn and colic; red elder berry placed on aching joints by the Cowlitz to subdue swelling. Learn how Native people of the Pacific Northwest lived well without supermarkets, pharmacies, or outdoor outfitters, and even take home some useful tips for your own ethnobotanical endeavors.

The Gunther Garden was created in 1984 and named for the renowned anthropologist, educator, and ethnobotanist Erna Gunther. Gunther was Director of the Anthropology Division at the University of Washington for 25 years. From 1929 to 1962, she also served as Director of the Burke Museum, where she single-handedly developed and nurtured the museum's ethnobotanical collection. A scholar widely-respected for her work on the art and culture of the Northwest Coast, Gunther's signature work, Ethnobotany of Western Washington: The Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans, based on research conducted in the 1930's, is still regarded a benchmark in the field and is widely consulted today.

While you're visiting the Gunther Garden, you'll also see totem poles and a killer whale sculpture carved by Seattle master craftsman Bill Holm. The poles are replicas of two native tribal totem poles, one Haida and one Tsimshian, from British Columbia, while the whale is a replica of a mid-19th century Haida grave monument. These impressive sculptures hold court in the Gunther Garden, contributing further to the significance and wonder of this often overlooked tribute to Pacific Northwest ethnobotanical tradition.

Lecture begins at 1pm in the Burke Room, and will be followed at 2pm by the garden tour. Both activities are included with museum admission. For more information about this and other upcoming events at the Burke, please visit http://www.burkemuseum.org or ca,ll 206-543-5590.

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The Burke Museum is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on Thursdays. Admission is $6.50 general, $5 senior, $3 students/ youth, FREE to children 5 and under. Admission is free to Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff, and to the public on the first Thursday of each month. An additional fee may apply for special exhibits and programs. For 24-hour recorded information, please call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org.Please note that there may be additional fees for special exhibits and programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274
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