Book Documenting Northwest Native American Uses of Medicinal Plants is Recipient of 2014 ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award(AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 25, 2015) The nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2014 James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award. Nancy J. Turner, PhD, will receive the award for her two-volume work — Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014) — which is based on her research concerning the plants, practices, and ecology of native tribes. Dr. Turner is an ethnobotanist and Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was created in 2006 in honor of noted economic botanist and author, James A. Duke, PhD. It is awarded annually to books that provide a significant contribution to the literature in the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, or other disciplines related to the vast field of medicinal plants. Along with his expansive and prestigious career achievements in economic botany and ethnobotany and decades of work at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Dr. Duke has authored more than 30 reference and consumer books. He is also a co-founding member of ABC’s Board of Trustees and currently serves as Director Emeritus.
Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge represents four years of research and writing, drawing from Dr. Turner’s previous work and publications. She compiled a database of plant names from approximately 50 Indigenous languages and major dialects of the First Peoples, whose territories extend through most of the area covered in the book — from central Alaska to the Columbia River and east to the Rocky Mountains in western North America. “That showed some amazing connections, in some cases across long distances, that must have resulted from communication and linkages going way back into the past,” said Dr. Turner.
“I tried to write the book in an accessible way,” Dr. Turner continued, “so that it would be useful and of interest to a large and diverse group, from undergraduate university and college students to interested members of the general public. Most especially, I wanted to honor the elders and knowledge holders from Indigenous communities, and hope that younger generations will find the information in the book relevant and important as a part of their own cultural heritage.”
As Dr. Duke noted in his review of Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge in issue 105 of ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, “I have long admired Dr. Turner’s great work. As I skim pleasantly through her books, I can see interesting parallels between the late, great [Harvard ethnobotanist] R.E. Schultes, PhD, and his students assembling anthropological and ethnobotanical data on the First Amazonian Americans into a solid framework. Nancy and her students have done the same for approximately 500 ethnobotanical species of the First Americans in Northwest America.”
Dr. Turner, who has been studying ethnobotany and the cultures of Indigenous American peoples since 1967, has taught full-time at the University of Victoria since 1991. She has written more than 20 books and numerous articles, and also has an impressive array of awards, grants, and honors to her name, including Distinguished Economic Botanist of the Year from the Society for Economic Botany in 2011 and appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009. ABC has proudly included her on its Advisory Board since 1996. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge represents the culmination of a career of almost 50 years.
“I was always interested in plants and people,” said Dr. Turner. “Once I learned that this study was called ethnobotany … that’s what I wanted to study. It’s in my high-school yearbook (1965). I remember [that] in grade four, I was already serving dandelion and wild greens salad to my friends, much to their parents’ concern.” Thanks to her continued dedication to teaching through experience, Dr. Turner’s students absorb much more than names and places, and it is this idea that permeates her text. “[The students] learn that humans can live within Nature without destroying it, working with natural processes and Nature’s wonderful abilities to regenerate and restore itself,” she said.
“Dr. Nancy J. Turner collects, preserves, and explores biological information for (not from) Indigenous cultures, primarily First Nation groups in British Columbia,” said Steven Foster, noted author, photographer, and former president of the ABC Board of Trustees. “Her five decades of shared wisdom challenge how we think about people as a part of, rather than apart from, ecosystems. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge is a magnum opus of timeless value that will define ethnobiology and ethnoecology for generations forward.”
“Ethnobotany is a key foundation of modern herbal medicine,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “Much of the herbal knowledge we have today is based on the traditional uses of plants by people in Indigenous cultures. Nancy Turner’s documentation of the plant use in northwestern North America is a true treasure.”
Past recipients of the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award include Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd ed (Churchill Livingstone) by Kerry Bone and Simon Mills in 2013; Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes (Missouri Botanical Garden) by Bruce E. Ponman and Rainer W. Bussmann, PhD, in the reference/technical category and Smoke Signals (Scribner) by Martin A. Lee in the consumer/popular category in 2012; Healing Spices (Sterling Publishing) by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, in the consumer/popular category and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s Botanical Pharmacognosy (CRC Press) in the reference/technical category in 2011; Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (Churchill Livingstone) by Aviva Romm, MD, in 2010; An Oak Spring Herbaria (Oak Spring Garden Library) by Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi and Tony Willis in 2009; Mabberley's Plant-Book, 3rd ed (Cambridge University Press) by David J. Mabberley, PhD, in 2008; Google Book Search in 2007; Medicinal Spices (MedPharm Scientific Publishers) by Eberhard Teuscher, PhD, in 2006; and The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety (Churchill Livingstone) by Simon Mills and Kerry Bone in 2005.
Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge can be purchased for $100.00 through the publisher, the American Botanical Council online bookstore, and other online retailers. (ABC members receive 10% off when purchasing from the online bookstore.)
The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award will be presented at the 10th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 5, 2015, in Anaheim, California. The event, for ABC Sponsor Members, occurs during the NEXT Innovation Summit nutrition, natural products, and dietary supplements conference and Natural Products Expo West.
The ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony is underwritten by generous contributions from the following members of the herb, dietary supplement, and natural products industry:
| Alkemist Labs
Amin Talati & Upadhye
Martin Bauer Group
| Natural Factors Nutritional Products|
New Hope Natural Media
Ryan Turner Specialty
United Natural Products Alliance