Dr. Turner 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.
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.
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.
“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.”