Life narrative ethnography of Wolastoqiyik elder Charles Solomon, Medicine Man: an apprenticeship approach

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University of New Brunswick


Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Elder Charles Solomon’s life as a practitioner and teacher of medicinal plant knowledge in New Brunswick, Canada, is introduced through a life-history ethnographic approach, which argues for the importance of in-depth, long-term research methods in documenting the narrative complexity of Indigenous Knowledge (IK). Support for this research is drawn from IK research and critical ethnographic theory. Insights emerging from the study of Elder Charles Solomon’s work include the importance of interpersonal collaboration in collecting medicinal plants and the dramatic effects of industrialization on medicinal plant gathering areas. Research implications include: the value of combining Indigenous Knowledge research with Western Scientific research, recognition of International law concerning Indigenous Peoples right to practice their cultural traditions including plant harvesting, and the importance of incorporating land-based (groundtruthing) research when conducting an IK study. Key Words: Wolastoqiyik, Maliseet, Indigenous Knowledge, medicinal plants