Table of contents

Acknowledgements xi

i Contexts and Holistic Approaches to Northern Community Well-Being

1 Traditional Knowledge, Healing, and Wellness
An Introduction // Leslie Main Johnson

2 Making and Taking Medicine
Indigenous and Western Therapeutics in an Early Contact Eastern
Mackenzie Delta Society, 1858–1920 // Walter Vanast

3 Illness and Power in Times of Contact
Gitxsan and Witsuwit’en Narratives of Healing // Leslie Main Johnson

4 “Our Food Is Our Medicine”
Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Plant Foods for Health and Well-Being
in the Canadian North and Alaska // Nancy J. Turner

5 Cranberries Are Medicine
Monitoring, Sharing, and Consuming Cranberries in Fort McKay // Janelle Marie Baker and the Fort McKay Berry Group

6 Huckleberries, Food Sovereignty, Cumulative Impact, and Community Health
Reflections from Northern British Columbia, Canada // Leslie Main Johnson, Darlene Vegh, and Ruby E. Morgan

7 Conditions for Well-Being
Sustainatibily of an Inuit Subsistence System in a Globalized World // Keiichi Omura

8 Inuvialuit Nautchiangit, Relationships between People and Plants
A Project to Document Traditional Plant Knowledge // Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

9 Community Context, Research Methods, and Cultural Ethics in the Plants for Life Project, Délı̨ne // Christopher Fletcher

10 Life Transformation and Volunteerism in Teetł’itZheh
Pathway to Community Well-Being // Thea Luig

ii Northern Community Voices on Wellness

11 Sip’xw Hligetdin
Demonstrating the Strength, Education, Readiness, and Responsibility to Speak in the Feasthall // Art Mathews, Sim’oogit T’enim Gyet

12 Seaweed Harvesting and My Uncle’s Stories // Della M. Cheney, Stakawas, Katsawa

13 Life at Moose Lake
Traditional Life in Fort McKay Territory and the Impacts of Oil Sands Mining // Celina Harpe-Cooper

14 Health Is Living Well According to Kaska Values
Kaska Women’s Words // Linda G. McDonald and Mida Donnessey

15 Wisdom for Well-Being
Gwich’in Elders’ Teachings // Mary Teya, Annie B. Gordon, Mabel English, and Alestine Andre

16 Healing and Spiritual Knowledge of Délı̨ne and Plants for Life // Morris Neyelle and Bernice Neyelle

17 Words of a Traditional Healer from Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories // Robert Beaulieu

18 Pathways and Choices
Concluding Words // Leslie Main Johnson



Wisdom Engaged shows how traditional knowledge, Indigenous approaches to healing, and the insights of Western bio-medicine can complement each other when all voices are heard in a collaborative effort to address changes to Indigenous communities’ well-being. In this collection, voices of Elders, healers, physicians, and scholars are gathered in an attempt to find viable ways to move forward while facing new challenges. The book provides a critical conversation about the nature of medicine; a demonstration of ethical commitment; and an example of building successful community relationships.


"[Wisdom Engaged] gives compelling evidence that Indigenous health is fundamentally tied to land, language, and culture…. Wisdom Engaged shows that decolonisation means a return to Indigenous peoples of the power they once had over their own health and well-being. This is a crucial first step on the long road to reconciliation. ”

- Jeff Kochan

"This text will be of value to novice readers seeking an entry point to learn more about indigenous traditional healing practices. Summing Up: Recommended. "

- S. Perreault

"Wisdom Engaged examines the different aspects of traditional knowledge and its usage in daily routines that support a healthy lifestyle… Readers will encounter rich evidence of the interconnectivity that Indigenous peoples’ well-being has with traditions, communities, and culture…. [Editor Leslie Main Johnson] accomplishes her goal: to center traditional knowledge in exploring methods to advance individual and community health as well as healing in northwestern North American Indigenous communities. All those interested in traditional knowledge, Western biomedicine, or Indigenous and environmental health should read this compelling book.”

- Kathie Beebe, Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal, Spring 2022