Indigenous Knowledge of Local Plants


Our Horticulture Club leaders (grade 5) have been enthusiastically assisting their younger peers (grades 2 and 3) in learning more and caring about plants in our Science room. What if we could take this to the next level and work on a bigger project that requires even greater responsibility? What if we could invite local Elders, have student leaders learn from them and in turn teach younger students? We did just that and would like to show everyone how we did it.


We started by consulting local Knowledge Keepers who provided us with information that we used to create displays around our school. These displays piqued student interest and made them more aware of the value of plants in our area. In the next step, we invited a few Piikani (Blackfoot) Elders to our school to teach our students about the plants. Inspired by these visits our Horticulture Club leaders studied the Blackfoot names of the plants on their own time (during recess) and went on the land to gain first-hand knowledge of them. Having practised, they are now ready to transfer their knowledge to the grades below them.

Reflection & Celebration

Connecting Elders’ knowledge to real-life experience with plants has resulted in increased enthusiasm and confidence among members of our Horticulture Club. As young “experts,” they are now preparing to share their learning with younger students. This models the passing on of knowledge from generation to generation but within the microcosm of the school setting. It is hard, if not impossible, to care about the land if one does not know the land. What is a better way of learning about the land, if not being on the land accompanied by people whose ancestors cared for the land for Millennia? We recently met a Blackfoot Communications specialist while filming at a Blackfoot Archeology conference. We would like to hire him to teach these students how to present their learning in video format so that it can be shared more widely and promote interest in student leadership in caring for the land.

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