Using Ethnobotany as a Topic To Make Connections between Culture and Science.


Ethnobotany is the study of the relationships between plants and people. Ethnobotanists study a large range of interests related to indigenous populations, including the use of plants for foodstuffs, medicines, dyes, transportation, clothing, shelter, and ritual. The Navajo, like other indigenous groups, have developed a wealth of knowledge about the local fauna which have led to the following: medicines used in sacred ceremonies and for the treatment of a variety of ailments for both man and animal; dyes used in the coloring of wool for rugs; nutritionally rich leaves, roots, stems, and fruits to supplement their diets; and materials for the construction of shelter and utilitarian goods. This paper reviews an ethnobotany unit that utilizes the valuable science content contained in the ethnobotany of the Navajo. This interdisciplinaryapproach helps develop deeper understanding of the relationships of culture to the environment. Also included is a list of resources for acquiring general knowledge about ethnobotany.