Taxonomy Filled With Heart: New ‘Cascadia’ Literary Field Guide To Be Based On Indigenous Classification

Taxonomy Filled With Heart: New ‘Cascadia’ Literary Field Guide To Be Based On Indigenous Classification

By: Lauren Marie Mahncke

The first-ever Cascadia field guide will group wildlife into groups of 7-10 species that rely on each other to survive. These “Kinship Clusters” will be used instead of western taxonomy.

Local experts, poets, and artists will work together to create this new literary field guide, which aims to “speak to the heart.” The guide will also be affordable and usable to allow people to explore the Cascadia bioregion. This area of the Pacific Northwest includes British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

Classification Through “Kinship Clusters”

Western taxonomy has traditionally divided things into siloed categories, such as Insects, Birds, and Plants. The new Cascadia field guide will draw inspiration from indigenous forms of classifications, such as “kinship clusters.”

Cascadia Bioregion

The Cascadia bioregion is in the Pacific Northwest. It extends for more than 2,500 miles from the Copper River in southern Alaska to the Yellowstone Caldera. Cascadia’s wildlife is rich and diverse. It includes more than 350 bird and mammal species, multiple carbon-absorbing forests, rivers, lakes, inlets, and more. 

Clustering Wildlife with Art

The “Kinship Clusters” will include groups of 7-10 interrelated species, such as plants and animals that rely on each other to survive. One example is the Salish Sea. This region exists between Washington State and British Columbia, sharing a highly interdependent web of life. 

Each cluster will include information on the area’s natural history. It will also include special poems and unique artistic images, such as sketches. The inclusion of poems and imagery will “speak to the heart,” something field guides don’t normally do.

A Collaborative Effort

Numerous local experts, field guides, poets, and artists will collaborate to create this field guide and infuse it with heart and passion. 

Professor and author Ernestine Hayes suggested using indigenous categorization to create the field guide. Writer and naturalist, Elizabeth Bradfield, will also work alongside poetry editor, Derek Sheffield, on the project. It is also important to credit Seattle University professor, David McCloskey, with the popularization of the idea as “Cascadia” as a distinct bioregion.

Preserving Culture Through Conservation

Cascadia is considered a ‘bioregion.’ A bioregion is an area defined by natural borders and the culture that stems from that environmental area.

This is opposed to classifying an area by arbitrary map lines. In many ways, the surrounding natural environment influences local culture. This new field guide is intended to honor Cascadia’s unique culture as well.

Cascadia Map

Cascadia Map Of The Pacific Northwest

Ocean Blue Project and the Community

At Ocean Blue Project (OBP), we are dedicated to preserving native wildlife and organizing community clean-ups. By centering a cultural identity around their natural environment, Cascadia creates a unique reason to conserve wildlife. By conserving wildlife, we are not only protecting the environment but also a cultural identity.

The Cascadia region borders much of the Northern Pacific Ocean. Multiple rivers and streams flow through the region. Projects such as our River Restoration Projects are vital to preserving Cascadia’s environment, which preserves this bioregion’s culture. 

By connecting community, conservation, removing microplastics from rivers, the ocean and making impact at all OBP projects, we can make sure that unique bioregions flourish into the future. This can allow future generations to enjoy the unique, new literary field guide when exploring beautiful regions such as Cascadia. 

Author Bio


Lauren Marie Mahncke is a copywriter and educational professional. She is passionate about wildlife conservation. When not writing for her company Lauren Marie Agency, you can find her trail hiking with her two dogs, Jupiter and Jasper.

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