Indigenous Science: Ethnobotany and Conservation Practices

The Illinois Bicentennial is an important marker for the history of Illinois citizens. A narrative that is often overlooked in history and science is that of Native Americans. To remedy this and enrich the Bicentennial celebration, C2ST, in partnership with the Trickster Gallery, Chicago City Markets and the Mitchell Museum, is hosting an Indigenous Science program. This program will be made up of a panel of qualified experts in ethnobotany, sustainability, and conservation. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience and an interactive exhibit with examples of medicinal plants and herbs from the Trickster Gallery’s garden collection.

Featured Guests Adam Kessel (Lakota/Italian) has extensive experience as a teacher in environmental education in Chicago. His book, Zombie Gardening, is a fun and unique field guide. The book draws readers in by offering unique and sarcastic field notes about the identification of edible plants and the ongoing struggles of living in a post zombie world. Zombie Gardening creates an exciting opportunity to get readers excited about botany and the conservation of natural resources. He gained his passion and knowledge of ethno-botany through his many years of service to the Native American community of Chicago. During that time, he helped to develop an extensive culturally based science curricula that revolved around traditional uses of plants of the Great Lakes Region. He received his Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University of Chicago. He holds a teaching certificate with the State of Illinois, an arborist certificate through the International Society of Arboriculture, and an Interpretive Guide certificate through National Association for Interpretation.

Gina Roxas is a Prairie Band Potawatomi and has studied the environment through a multifaceted lens of traditional teachings as well as the humanities and science. Her interest in ethnobotany and commitment to maintaining indigenous traditions has led her to develop culturally-based, hands-on educational programs through gardening. She manages the Medicinal Garden Project at Trickster Art Gallery which provides resources for the support and education of indigenous traditions in the community.

Dr. Eli Suzukovich III (Little Shell Band of Chippewa-Cree/Krajina Serb) is an anthropologist with a focus on cultural resource management, ethnography, religion, oral history, and ethno-biology. Through his academic and professional careers, Eli’s work has included community level research within the American Indian communities of Chicago, IL and Missoula, MT; archival collections research and management; applied ethnography; forensic field and laboratory research; and field technician for the Montana USDA. Currently, Eli is a lecturer in the Environmental Policy and Culture Program at Northwestern and Native American and Indigenous Research Institute faculty affiliate. Outside of Northwestern, he is an associate fellow in the Keller Action Science Center located within the Field Museum of Natural History. Eli serves on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, a FACA council that works with the U.S. Forest Service and USDA in developing urban forestry programs, funding protocols, and policy recommendations. On the community level, Eli serves on the Leadership Council for the St. Kateri Center of Chicago, a Native American outreach center for Chicago’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and is involved with the Dunning Read Conservation Area Advisory Committee, which serves to guide the management of a 25 acre conservation easement on Chicago’s northwest side.

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