Native American Uses of Plants of the Rocky Mountain Region
With a little bit of knowledge and a good digging stick a resourceful person can find plenty to eat among the wild plants of Colorado. This virtual cornucopia of seeds, berries, and roots provided a year-around supply of nutrients and calories to sustain the native populations for thousands of years. Some of these plants, such as wild plums and pinion nuts, require only a slight stretch of the modern imagination to be considered for tonight’s dinner. Others, such as the slime covered cattail root, stinking gourds, nauseous rabbit brush, and the aptly named pincushion cactus, take a bit more thought.
Thankfully, the collection and preparation of these plants is often described in ethnographic accounts from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These accounts provide great reading and valuable analogies for the interpretation of plant remains from archaeological contexts.
This 45-minute PowerPoint presentation will cover the excavation and extraction of botanical remains from archaeological sites, the interpretation of the remains, and a review of some of the plants and their uses. Many of the plants discussed are common in the yards and wilderness areas of Colorado, either as our treasured flowers or as one of those pesky weeds.
About the Presenter
Meg Van Ness has been an archaeologist for over 50 years with most of the time spent in the middle of the continent: the Midwest, Northern Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Southwest. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of Missouri and an MA from Northern Arizona University – both in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology. The first 16 years were spent working on various projects through universities and archaeological consulting companies, followed by 15 years at the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation within the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office. Beginning in 2005, and until her retirement May 2023, she was an archaeologist for Mountain-Prairie Zone of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – National Wildlife Refuge System. Her primary interests are the archaeological remains of prehistoric plant use, Depression-era buildings and structures, and new discoveries.
Looking to learn the history of bad whiskey recipes, shady ladies, gambling and con men of Colorado? Author Randi Samuelson-Brown will be presenting on vice in old west Colorado and the people that helped make it wild.
Randi Samuelson-Brown is originally from Golden, Colorado but now lives in Denver. A passion for Colorado history was instilled by her father from early on, and she certainly latched on to the more notorious aspects of live in Colorado and the West. She was a finalist in the 2021 Colorado Book Awards for the Bad Old Days of Colorado. Her newest book is Brand Chaser – Book #1 of the Dark Range Series.
When not writing in her free time, Randi is often riding horses and traveling around Colorado and the West, finding inspiration from people, places, and open spaces. She loves speaking at museums and organizations, and especially loves to meet readers.
Books: Brand Chaser, The Bad Old Days of Colorado: Untold Stories of the Wild West, Market Street Madam and The Beaten Territory.
This lecture dives into the history of Indigenous psychedelic medicine use in Colorado.
When did it become illegal in the United States to use the active ingredients in some of the plants/fungi in the region? How did healers and medicine people who carried the traditional knowledge work with the substances after criminalization? What active ingredients/compounds are now legal again nationally or at the state level? This lecture covers historical uses from an anthropological discipline.
Dr. Otañez: Chair and Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department, University of Colorado Denver. One of his research areas is psilocybin use among people of color in Colorado and building corporate accountability in the global psychedelic sector. In fall 2023, Dr. Otañez and his co-author Aaraón Díaz (Mexico City) are publishing the first volume in a four-volume book Art-Based Narratives as Resources to End Cannabis Stigmatization in North America.
Artist Kathy Mitchell-Garton combines her fondness for Golden’s topography and landscape with her love of heirloom textiles and stitching to create artworks that explore the intersection of family, history, and place. Come hear more about her inspiration and gain insight into her artistic process in this artist’s talk and demonstration. Kathy will bring pieces from her stash of textiles and maps and demonstrate a few stitches. Museums always say ‘don’t touch’—this is your chance to get your hands on some beautiful textiles and stitching! Drop in anytime.