Zoe Todd - Artwork

First Nations: Ethical Landscapes, Sacred Plants

Friday, November 13, 2020

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

This symposium will bring together Indigenous environmental experts from the United States and Canada to discuss how Native communities are researching and addressing threats to their lands from extractive industries, pollution, and climate change. The speakers will share Native understandings of the medicinal and nutritional value of plants and models of ethical and sustainable land use. They will also suggest how botanical gardens can learn from Indigenous plant experts in a spirit of respect and reciprocity and in full recognition of the ways in which these institutions have supported and profited from colonialism in the past. We will consider how to build a just alliance with Indigenous scholars to work together with due humility toward a more sustainable relationship with plants.

First Nations: Ethical Landscapes, Sacred Plants
is convened by the Garden’s Humanities Institute in partnership with Yale University and the Mellon Foundation. It forms part of The Order of Multitudes: Atlas, Encyclopedia, Museum, a collaborative project that examines the long and varied history of attempts to collect and manage information and generate synthetic, inclusive knowledge.

Zoe Todd (Métis/otipemisiw) from Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta, Canada, artist and Associate Professor at Carlton Univ., Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Special Remarks
Joe Baker, Executive Director of the Lenape Center, NY, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, CT. Enrolled Member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, Bartlesville, OK

Who are you Calling “Common”? Cultural Keystone Species in Extractive Zones
Janelle Marie Baker (Métis ancestry; collaborator with Bigstone Cree Nation), Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Athabasca University, Northern Alberta, Canada

Plants Are Our Relatives
Linda Black Elk
(Catawba Nation), Ethnobotanist, Food Sovereignty Skills Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota

Questions of Ethics and Justice in Coalition Building
Kyle Whyte (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Professor of Environment and Sustainability, and George Willis Pack Professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability

Moderator of Public Q&A
Ashanti Shih, Yale University, postdoctoral scholar at University of Southern California’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities. Former Mellon Fellow, NYBG Humanities Institute


CART Interpretation, Spanish, French, and Chinese live-translation will be provided at this event. For accommodation requests related to a disability, questions, comments, or more information about the accessibility of this event, please contact Charles Zimmerman at access@nybg.org or 718.817.8765.

About the Speakers and Presenters

Joe Baker

Artist, curator, and educator, Joe Baker is Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, CT and co-founder and Executive Director of the Lenape Center. He is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, Bartlesville, OK

Joe Baker

Image Credit: Speculative Algae (detail), watercolor by Zoe Todd

Support for the Humanities Institute provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation