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Park Service Rule Change Helps Preserve Traditional Culture

File photo of Urtica dioica, commonly called stinging nettle
Nino Barbieri
Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/gn23d4m
File photo of Urtica dioica, commonly called stinging nettle

The National Park Service Wednesday announced it will allow Native Americans to gather plants on federal land managed by the agency.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the rule change during a speech to the National Congress of American Indians. She pointed to an agreement between Washington’s Nisqually and Tulalip tribes and Mt. Rainier National Park that allows tribal members to collect bear grass and prairie pine for traditional handicrafts.

Mel Sheldon chairs the Tulalip tribes. He said the new rules helps preserve traditional knowledge.

“Whether there be root gathering, picking blackberries, or getting cedar off the trees for making hats and such things, this is who we are, this is our culture,” he said.

Sheldon uses nettles and other plants for medicinal and naturopathic purposes.

The Park Service first proposed the rule change in April 2015. Commercial gathering of plants on Park Service lands is still prohibited.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.