Naukan ethnobotany in post-Soviet times: lost edibles and new medicinals.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Nov 17;13(1):61
Authors: Jernigan KA, Belichenko OS, Kolosova VB, Orr DJ
BACKGROUND: This study focuses on health-related plant use among speakers of the critically endangered Naukan language (Inuit-Yupik-Unangan family) in the Russian Far East. The Naukan people were forced, in 1958, under Soviet consolidation, to move from their original settlement on Cape Dezhnev, leading to significant changes in spiritual worldview, subsistence, social structure, and language proficiency in the years that followed. Here, we focus on changes that elders report in their edible, medicinal, and spiritual uses of local plant species since their childhood.
METHODS: The authors worked from 2014 to 2016 in the villages of Lavrentiya, Lorino, and Uelen, in the Chukotskiy district of the Chukotka autonomous region, directly adjacent to the Bering Strait. We conducted structured interviews, using an oral history approach, along with participant observation and collection of voucher specimens from the local arctic tundra. Those with Naukan names and uses represent 42 species in 25 families.
RESULTS: Participants reported a decrease of 13% in the number of edible species that people currently harvest, from what they recall harvesting in their youth. On the other hand, the number of local species considered to be medicinal has actually increased by 225%. Current and past Naukan medicinal practices diverge in some notable ways from those of neighboring societies on the Alaskan side of the Bering Strait. Most of the spiritual significance of local plants species is remembered by only a few elders.
CONCLUSIONS: Naukan elders explained the large increase in use of medicinal plants by noting that their original concept of medicine emphasized prevention and that illnesses were often assigned a spiritual rather than physical cause. Increased integration with ethnic Russians after moving from Naukan led to the adoption not only of new plant uses, but also of an entirely different, more naturalistic way of viewing illness and treatment.
PMID: 29149856 [PubMed - in process]
Traditions, beliefs and indigenous technologies in connection with the edible longhorn grasshopper Ruspolia differens (Serville 1838) in Tanzania.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Nov 13;13(1):60
Authors: Mmari MW, Kinyuru JN, Laswai HS, Okoth JK
BACKGROUND: Edible insects are an important source of food to many African populations. The longhorn grasshopper, Ruspolia differens (Serville 1838), commonly known as senene in Tanzania is one of the most appreciated edible insects by societies around Lake Victoria crescent. Senene is primarily an essential treat for the tribes around the lake, e.g., the Haya of Tanzania, Luo of Kenya and Baganda of Uganda. Despite its importance as a food item and appreciation as a delicacy, there are few studies dealing with culture, beliefs and indigenous technology in connection with the senene. The main objective of this study was to survey indigenous technologies, processing methods and traditions in relation to senene consumption among the Haya tribe in Kagera region of Tanzania.
METHODS: Our ethnographic study was conducted through semi-structured interviews. A total of 51 locals, 26 females and 25 males aged 21 to 60 years were interviewed (with 3 female and 7 male key informants among them). Questions focused on cultures, beliefs and traditions towards senene consumption. Processing, preservation and shelf-life as well as nutritional knowledge were also investigated.
RESULTS: Harvesting for household consumption was mainly done through wild collection. Traditionally made traps were mostly used for commercial harvesting. Deep frying was the most preferred processing method while smoking was the most preferred preservation method, with shelf-life of up to 12 months. Interesting traditions and taboos associated with senene consumption were identified, with men monopolising the insects as food by declaring the insects taboo for women and children. Deep fried senene in locally packed containers were mostly sold by street vendors, but also available from a variety of stores and supermarkets.
CONCLUSION: Beyond being just an important traditional delicacy, senene is becoming increasingly popular, providing opportunity for local businesses. Indigenous technologies for harvesting, processing and preserving senene exist, but must be improved to meet food processing standards, thereby promoting commercialization. This carries economic potential essential for improving incomes and livelihoods of women and smallholder farmers, improving household level food security.
PMID: 29132398 [PubMed - in process]