2019 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course


See what we did this year in our 2018 Photo Album!!

Take a look at our 2017 Course Photos  

This program is in its fourth year and designed for those with a love of plants who want to delve deeper and gain skills and knowledge about the traditional uses of the native plants of the Pacific Northwest. This is a focused mentorship program with Heidi Bohan following the seasonal rounds of the People of Cascadia, using the book of that name as a framework for our studies. We will gain and share skills, harvest our own materials, work on group and individual projects, visit museums and cultural centers, invite traditional knowledge guests to share knowledge, while exploring Cascadia from sea to steppe, and working on hands-on projects. The book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer, serves as a guide during this course, with a beautiful blend of indigenous and scientific perspective.

When? The course runs January- August on the last weekend of the month, with a combination of Ecosystem Explorations on Saturdays and Workshops on Sundays. Additionally there may also be optional Project Work evenings, and impromptu expeditions for additional learning and skills building time.

Dates for 2019: Last Saturday & Sunday of each month- January through September
Jan 26&27; Feb 23&24; March 30&31; April 27&28, May 25&26; June 29&30; July 27&28; August 23, 24&25 (overnight expedition); Culmination event in September TBD

Saturday will generally be Ecosystem Exploration days, beginning at 9:00, to explore plant communities and cultural sites around the region, visit others, and harvest for our projects. Sundays will generally be Workshop days, beginning at 10:00, focused on hands-on projects for skills and knowledge building. These days may flip depending on weather forecasts, and specific projects.

Where? Workshops will take place in the ‘Scholars Garden’ in Fall City, Washington, and various other special locations within 30-40 minutes of Seattle. Excursions will take place from seashore to sagebrush steppe throughout Washington, many in a comfortable van, others as carpools.

What can you expect?
You will learn about native plants and the ethnobotanical uses of the plants of the Pacific Northwest:
 Plant identification with a focus on important traditional plants and their uses
 Plant communities around the Cascadia region from seashore to sagebrush steppe,        Traditional and contemporary uses of plants for food, medicine, fiber and ceremony
 Traditional land management techniques
 Traditional ecological knowledge
 Phenology (seasonal sequence of flowering, ripening) and seasonal indicators
 Historical lay of the land
 Rare and at risk plants and habitats, with a focus on culturally importance

You will gain skills and knowledge about:
 Wild harvest of plants following the seasonal round
 Traditional foods preparation and preservation techniques
 Plant medicines- traditional and contemporary
 Wood working and tool-making
 Native plant propagation, restoration & garden design
 Plant fiber processing and weaving
 Basketry and mats
 Pigments and natural dyes
 Cultural elements of food, shelter, clothing

You will make some cool stuff! Example of potential projects:
 Traditional tools such as awls, digging sticks, cooking tongs and utensils
 Traditional foods meal with camas, fern, biscuit root, acorn, wild greens and more
 Cedar bark processing for containers, clothing and more
 Nets and net bags from nettle, dogbane and other plant fibers
 Traditional mats and baskets
 Plant presses and pressings, herbarium sheets and journals
 Journey plant medicine kits from traditional plants

You will journey to important cultural landscapes:
 Vestige and historic camas prairies and oak savannahs
 Seashore and estuarine island habitats
 Old growth forests and bogs
 Sagebrush steppe and ponderosa pine forests
 Montane meadows, bogs and forests
 Wetland explorations by canoe
 Cultural centers and museum archives

New this year- included in course fee, a membership to the Washington Native Plant Society- Chapter of your choice:
 Additional plant identification walks, program talks, plant sales & more

Who is this designed for? This course is geared for people with some previous plant knowledge and designed for a wide array of skill levels from novice to higher skill and knowledge. Our outdoor expeditions are easy hikes with a rare bit of bush-wacking and, new this year, an easy canoe journey as well, so physical mobility is required.

About Heidi Bohan
Heidi Bohan has been working in tribal communities and teaching to the public for the past 23 years; as a professional woodworker for 15 years prior to that; and with plants personally and professionally for all of her life as an organic gardener, back-to-the- lander in the 70’s, and in plant propagation nurseries since the 80’s.

She is the author of ‘The People of Cascadia’, ‘Starflower Native Plant ID Cards’, and ‘Journey Plant Medicines Cards‘, along with numerous other related writings. She teaches Ethnobotany as adjunct faculty for Bastyr University (12 years), Snoqualmie Tribe (11 years), Alderleaf Wilderness School (5 years), Bullock Brothers Homestead (5 years), Wilderness Awareness School, Trackers Earth, and numerous other organizations around the Pacific Northwest. To learn more please go to http://www.heidibohan.com

Heidi has also been focusing on the ethnobotany of her own Scottish and Irish ancestry, and recently northern Spain, making journeys there to immerse in the land and culture, this year bringing a group of students with her on an ‘Ireland Ethnobotany Exploration’. This work has added depth and authenticity to the relationships between her own indigenous knowledge and those of this land of Cascadia. Appropriate interactions with the environment and use of traditional knowledge runs a constant thread throughout our work.


As a Northwesterner who enjoys hiking and being outdoors I really wished to know more about the many plants that we saw when we are out on our weekend hikes. Heidi’s ethnobotany [Plant ID] class is perfect for beginners or those who want to learn more about our natural surroundings, and the best part about the class is many layers of insight it has added to my hiking trips now. Not only do I now recognize and identify plants and herbs, but I also came across some surprising history that I’d never thought about before. I also gained such a amazing insight into the experience of our local native American cultures. I have a newfound deep respect and commitment to preserving ancient traditions and knowledge. Our experiences were spontaneously beautiful and profound which was a pleasant surprise! -TB (2018)

If you ever get a chance to take a course in Ethnobotany, I highly recommend it. I’ve lived in the Pacific NW most of my life and I had no idea we had prairies. We spent all day on Saturday exploring these, identifying plants, and visiting oak groves and wetlands. Then on Sunday, we had a workshop day, learning about cedar and honoring the harvest from a fallen tree by making the bark into beautiful baskets. I continue to learn and surprise myself by doing something I never thought I’d do… Like tromping around in mountainside bogs to peek at little bird nests and see examples of our native arnica flowers, or hiking a tiny part of the Pacific Crest Trail. I did it! Today, we prepared the things we’ve been harvesting over the past few months and enjoyed a traditional foods feast alongside the Snoqualmie River. Heidi Bohan, thank you for another amazing weekend of learning and making! Katie (2018 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course, Basketry & Weaving Apprenticeship 2018/19)

I learned many fun, interesting and wonderful things in Heidi’s Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Plant Identification Course. I found that giving names to plants that I have seen all my life was a true joy. Identifying the plants brought them closer so I could see them as individuals and part of my community. Among many others gifts, this is the one I value the most from Heidi’s teaching. Linda (2018)

Highly recommend this course! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skills with us. It was the best class I’ve ever taken! And the culminating field trip couldn’t have been any better! Brenda (2016 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Apprenticeship, 2014-15 Gatherer to Gardener Apprenticeship Programs, more…)

Heidi’s classes are a true oasis among the soulless diversions of the 21st century. Her unique wisdom and experience, and her important relationships with people and plants is shared without dogma. Heidi’s specific journeyman-level skill sets provide excellent guidance to new carvers, ethnobotanists, weavers, makers of all sorts, and life long learners. Heidi Bohan is an important cultural resource in the Pacific Northwest, and her unique teachings should be experienced by those who call this area home, and by all people who look for the constant connections between us and the natural world.  Doug (2017 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course, 2016 Carving Intensive, 2015 Basketry Series)

I have taken a number of courses and apprenticeships from Heidi Bohan, including her Ethnobotany Apprenticeship. From each experience, I leave thoroughly nourished and inspired.  Heidi is a true Renaissance Woman; in every sense of the word.  I appreciate the passion and integrity with which she passes on ancestral knowledge, and the creativity and depth of heart that she puts into her teachings.  I am always amazed at how much she is able to fit into a 6 hour class, and the variety of the material covered. I have always felt very comfortable and happy walking in the forests and other wild places. Now, I feel more connected to those wild places.  I have gained a greater sense of wonder and appreciation for the plants and trees that I pass; knowing what they can share with me.  I feel like I am walking among friends and relatives. Zoe (2017 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course, 2017 Ireland Ethnobotany Exploration, 2016-17 Basketry & Weaving Apprenticeship, 2016 Carving Intensive, Plant Medicines Intensive, more…)

I highly recommend Heidi Bohan and her Ethnobotany course. I have taken her class for two years in a row now and if I had the time in my life to take her class for a third year in a row I would. There is always more to learn and a deepening of this learning that can happen with Heidi because her knowledge is that alive and ongoing. Heidi is a wonderful, straight forward teacher. She shares her extensive knowledge and obvious love and passion for the native plants, ecosystem and indigenous cultures of our region with care and respect. I am so grateful to have learned from Heidi through this respectful lens of taking care of the land so that the gifts this land provides will be here for generations to come. Tracy (2016 & 2017 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course)

Program Fee:

$1600 for 9 months
Note: Tribal members please see information below.
Credit cards accepted and limited installments plans can be arranged.
Max group of 12 for individualized mentorship
Includes: Course binder; Books- The People of Cascadia, Bohan, Braiding Sweetgrass– Kimmerer, and Journey Plant Medicine Cards- Bohan; and (new this year!) a one year membership with the Washington Native Plant Society- Chapter of your choice (for additional plant walks, talks and more).

$250 Deposit holds your spot
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Registration application, to be followed by personal contact:

For the tribal community:
Snoqualmie Tribal Members: Gatherer to Gardener Programs have been approved by Tribal Council for funding under the ‘Education- Adult Enrichment Activities’ Application

I also offer stipends and discounts to tribal members from all local tribes based on current class enrollment numbers.  Please contact me directly for more information : hbohan@peoplepc.com or 425-549-0093