Based on interviews with balsam bough pickers in northern Minnesota (n = 41), this study uses data related to all nontimber forest products (NTFP) harvested to explore benefits of multiple-NTFP analysis, and the utility of two concepts in understanding multiple-NTFP harvesting. First assuming that economic activity is cultural, we use the concept of pluriform economy to disaggregate NTFP activity, while the concept of cultural keystone products is used to arrange the component products into salient groups. One keystone product emerged-balsam boughs-and two keystone groupings-game and furs. Balsam, game, and furs represented 34% of all NTFP identified, yet accounted for the activities of 71% of the sample. The concepts facilitated organization of NTFP into meaningful analytical units. We suggest that balsam harvesters are distinct, overlapping groups organized by culturally important NTFP. We conclude that the cultural keystone concept will contribute to research by providing indicators of distinct, interconnected social institutions.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Balsam fir
- Cultural economy
- Cultural keystone species