Idea behind SPS
Within tribal communities across the country reclamation of ancestral food ways is becoming an integral part of mitigating the physical, mental, and emotional issues that have plagued tribal peoples since colonization. This reclamation is part of the Food Sovereignty movement.
Uniting people through traditional foodways is a method of bringing back, elevating, and loving traditional foods so that indigenous peoples can be healthy and well and their cultures revitalized. The efforts of the Salish Plant Society is to enact tribal food sovereignty through the revitalization of traditional food plant knowledge.
The Salish People
The Bitterroot Salish are a Salish-speaking band originating from what is now northwest Montana. With traditional territory spanning the region, their main area of living was located in what is now the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, MT. After the establishment of the Flathead Indian Reservation by the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, many Salish people live here now as part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
The Salish people lived off the land and covered 100's of miles to hunt, fish, forage and trade. Traditional place names tell us of areas the Salish people frequented for fish, game, and food plants throughout the seasons. Foraging was a key component of traditional society as plant foods supplemented a large part of the Salishan diet. The Salish utilized hundreds of local plants for food, medicine, tools, and ceremonial purposes.
The subsistence patterns of the Salish people were developed over thousands of years through observation, experimentation and understanding of the natural landscape cultivating a rich body of scientific and cultural knowledge about the environment.
To inspire the Salish community to recover their roots through traditional food plant relationships.
To create positive connections and healthy habits through the observing, foraging, sharing and loving of our traditional foods.
To build on the ancestral knowledge of the Salish and maintain this knowledge in a good way for the next generations.
Roots of Our Revival
Research has found that decrease in transmission of traditional foods and the ecological knowledge associated with them negatively affects their rates of consumption.
Through the careful combination of western science and traditional ecological knowledge coupled with longstanding cultural ideologies and ways of knowing, my hope is to integrate traditional food plants into the fabric of Salish Society. To have more Salish people interact and engage with our plants and in turn benefit from the socio-cultural and physical benefits of human/plant interactions.
Plants can improve our health, improve our communities
Prior to colonization, death was largely due to environmental factors such as starvation, intertribal warfare and the elements. Now, the Salish like many other tribal communities suffer from chronic illness and decreased lifespan as a result of years of infringement on traditional ways as well as forced assimilation and the toll of westernization over time.
Through the gift of traditional plants and their knowledge there is an opportunity to work on and improve our health for the next generation. Even small amounts of traditional food consumption can improve the diet quality of an individual while also hosting a variety of social and cultural benefits from human/plant interactions. This is where we begin.