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March 13, 2003

Nettles To Ninebark: Native People Using Native Plants

Lecture and Tour of the Erna Gunther Ethnobotanical Garden

Hosted by: Dr. Susan Libonati-Barnes, Garden Curator
Sat. April 26, 2003 at 1:30 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, April 26, 2003, join garden curator Susan Libonati-Barnes for a lecture and illuminating walk through the Burkes 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. Youll 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 Department 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 museums ethnobotanical collection. A scholar widely respected for her work on the art and culture of the Northwest Coast, Gunthers signature work, Ethnobotany of Western Washington: The Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans, based on research conducted in the 1930s, is still regarded a benchmark in the field and is widely consulted today.

While youre visiting the Gunther Garden, youll also see totem poles and a killer whale sculpture carved by Seattle master craftsman Bill Holm. 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.

The lecture begins at 1:30 pm in the Burke Room, and will be followed at 2 pm 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 is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE on the UW campus. Hours are 10 am - 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm Thursday. The Museum Store and Museum Caf?are also open during these hours. Admission to the permanent exhibits is $6.50 general, $5 senior, $3 student/youth, FREE to Burke members, children 5 and under, UW faculty, students, and staff. Admission to the special exhibition Out of the Silence is $8 general, $6.50 senior, $5 student/youth.. Out of the Silence is FREE to Burke members, children 5 and under, UW faculty, students, and staff. For 24-hour information, please call 206-543-5590, or visit www.burkemuseum.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274
burkepr@uw.edu