The forests of North Central British Columbia are home to many plants, animals, and foodstuffs that have sustained the Carrier people for thousands of years. One of these plants, G'oos (pronounced G-wus) - also known commonly as Cow Parsnip has been historically used by the Carrier as a food source and medicine.
A relative of the celery family, traditionally G'oos was harvested in the spring when the leaves and shoots were still young. In times long ago, before global warming started to affect our seasons, the shoots were harvested until the first week of July in lower lying areas around Saik'uz. After this time, they could be harvested in higher mountain regions in the Takla Lake area. After spring, the leaves and stocks turned bitter and thus were not good for eating.
G'oos needs to be carefully identified by someone who has had extensive training to distinguish it from the extremely poisonous look-a-like plants water hemlock and poison hemlock.
Traditionally, the stalks or leaf stems were peeled and eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. It was also split into strips and air dried in the sun to preserve it, and later eaten with eulachon grease or fish. Other Carrier ways of using g'oos included:
Erica Marciniec of WildFoodGirl says its important to note that eating g'oos can lead to a nasty sun related skin reaction if not harvested and processed properly. Great care must be taken when gathering and using this plant as a food source.
Medicinally, the Carrier and Gitxan people washed and ground the roots into powder for topical (external) use on sore joints.
Other Carrier medicinal uses have been noted as follows:
This paper from the Journal of Ethno Biology outlines some of the traditional use of g'oos from various British Columbia First Nations.
Photos used with permission from WildFoodGirl.com
© Carrier Sekani Family Services, 2016. Written by Marlaena Mann. All Rights Reserved.
The information in this post is intended to help preserve Carrier First Nations health and sustenance knowledge, for educational purposes and historical record. This information is not a guide to the preparation or prescription of food or traditional Carrier medicine, nor are these references to be used in the treatment of ailments or conditions without extensive hands on training from a knowledge holder, in collaboration/consultation with a medical professional.
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Last modified: Monday 06-Jul-20 16:02:04 PDT