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AIS 377 Ethnobotany.  A scientific study of the history, identification and use of the native plants by indigenous cultures.  Focus is on the interactions between people, cultures and plants, with a particular emphasis given of the plant use of the Lakota people. Co-taught by instructors Jace DeCory, John Dixson, Tara Ramsey & Justin Ramsey.  Three credits.


The full syllabus for AIS 377 can be downloaded here.



Instructors:                    Jace DeCory, Jonas Academic 101

                                        John Dixson, Life Sciences Lab 201

                                        Justin Ramsey, Jonas Science 168

                                        Tara Ramsey, Jonas Science 168   



Meeting Times:          There is one, 3-hour session that meets once per week:

                                    Mondays,  2:00–4:50 pm,  Jonas Science 143



Plant Species:      


Thirty (30) flowering plant species will be introduced during field trips and laboratory sessions.  Students are expected to learn the characteristics of these plants and to be able to recognize them growing in the wild and/or pressed as herbarium specimens.  Two plant identification quizzes will be given during field trips; moreover, species recognition will be one component of Exam No. 1 in mid October.


1.  Complete List of Plant Species Introduced by Field Trips         PDF Link


2.  Lakota Plant Names and Pronunciation Guide                               PDF Link


3.  Images & Names of Plant Species Introduced by Field Trips        Webpage Link




Botany-Focused Web Resources:


The following websites may be useful to students for developing skills in plant identification as well as learning biological attributes of native plant species (morphological characteristics, geographic and environmental distributions, life-history and reproductive features, etc.)


Kansas wildflowers and grasses:                            Minnesota wildflowers

http://www.kswildflower.org/                                https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/


North American Trees                                          Black Hills State University Herbarium

http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/                                    http://herbarium.bhsu.edu/



Assignment & Document Downloads


Assignments descriptions and readings are available for download in the list below; further information (including due dates) will be provided during classroom sessions.


  1. 1. Internet Assignment (Evaluation of Ethnobotany Websites)        PDF Link


2.  Medicinal Chemistry PowerPoint Presentation I          PDF Link


  1. 3. Medicinal Chemistry PowerPoint Presentation II        PDF Link


4.  Medicinal Chemistry PowerPoint Presentation III        PDF Link


5.  Response Papers to Guest Speakers and Video Presentations


            Response Paper #1            Word Doc Link               Link to Antibiotics Resistance video


            Response Paper #2            Word Doc Link               Link to Sprague Presentation (PDF)


            Response Paper #3            Word Doc Link   


            Response Paper #4            Word Doc Link




Poster Project


Working in groups of two, student will select a plant species of ethnobotanical interest among local taxa discussed in class or that occur elsewhere in North America.  Based on review of scientific papers, published historical or ethnobotanical works, and online resources, students will report on the biological, chemical, medicinal, and cultural significances of the species—including (but not limited to) geographic range and environmental affinities of the species; noteworthy phenotypic characteristics (life-history, growth form, vegetative and reproductive morphologies, etc.); ecological importance for natural habitats and wildlife; known or hypothesized chemical constituents and their biological properties; traditional uses in the context of medicine, food, fiber, decoration, and ceremony by American Indians and/or European settlers; and broader historical significance.  Students are encouraged to use creative approaches in designing the poster and may include graphics and photographs with their written text and list of cited references.  Groups will be evaluated based on poster content (technical features like organization, grammar, and spelling + creative features like graphical design and effective use of imagery) and the clarity of oral presentations.  Poster presentations will be made during the last class of the semester.


Guidelines for Poster Presentation Document           PDF Link



Course Schedule (subject to change based on weather conditions):


Week 01   ---   Course Introduction

(Aug. 21)


Week 02   ---   Plant Structure & Morphology   +   Field Trip No. 1 (Crow Peak GPA)

(Aug. 28)


Week 03   ---   Labor Day Holiday (no class)

(Sept. 4)


Week 04   ---   Understanding Plant Uses   +   Field Trip No. 2 (Botany Bay)

(Sept. 11)


Week 05   ---  Plant Classification & Nomenclature   +   Field Trip No. 3 (McNenny Hatchery)

(Sept. 18)


Week 06   ---   Major Plant Families   +   Field Trip No. 4 (Higgins Gulch)

(Sept. 25)


Week 07   ---   Ecology of the Great Plains & Black Hills   +   Safety in Consuming Wild Plants

(Oct. 2)


Week 08   ---   Native American Day (no class)

(Oct. 9)


Week 09   ---   Ecology of the Black Hills Ecoregion  +   Overview of Major Plant Families

(Oct. 16)           Exam 1 (take-home)



Week 10  ---   Pharmacologically Active Compounds

(Oct. 23)         


Week 11  ---   Chemistry Methods  +  Tour of BHSU Chemistry Facilities

(Oct. 30)          


Week 12   ---   Polysaccharides & Proteins; Phytochemistry

(Nov. 6)            Review of Chemistry Materials   +   Exam No. 2 (take-home)



Week 13   ---  Guest Speaker

(Nov. 13)


Week 14   ---   Oral Tradition & Great Plains Plant Uses

(Nov. 20)


Week 15   ---   Healing Theory & Role of Medicine Men/Women

(Nov. 27)


Week 16   ---   Sustainable Development & Ethics of Proprietary Plants

(Dec. 4)             Student Poster Session   



Final Exam is Tuesday 12 December @ 9:45-11:15 in Jonas Science 143



Course photos...

The full syllabus for AIS 377 can be downloaded here.