The Alutiiq Museum is moving forward with a project that will help preserve indigenous knowledge of local food resources and integrate that information with modern preservation techniques. April Laktonen Councellor and Danielle Ringer both work at the museum and are involved with the Alutiiq Wild Foods project. In an interview last week with KMXT’s Matthew Martens, Laktonen Councellor says that the program is aimed at young people who might not have access to information about traditional hunting and gathering methods.
— (Wild Food 1 :36 sec "Wouldn’t it be great to have a project where we could encourage young people to practice the different kinds of subsistence that we have here on Kodiak? There are a lot of people who don’t really consider themselves experts on harvesting or cooking but they do have skills we want to draw on to help encourage young people to get involved. I think a lot of people who are young who don’t have a lot experience hunting or gathering they feel intimidated, they don’t want to do it because they don’t have any access to someone in their family that might know how to do those things. That’s kind of where the inspiration for the project came about.")
The project is funded by a nearly $40,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund. Ringer says that each month the museum will hold a gathering focused on the discussion and exploration of a new food.
— (Wild Food 2 :25 sec "And what we’ll do is have interviews with people and there will a video recording of each so at the end we’ll have a full movie. We’ll also archive these so that people will have access to them in the future. We’re also going to put together a recipe book from people in the community. Other than our monthly community events, at the very end we’re going to have a huge potluck for everyone in town. So, it should be a lot of fun.")
Last week the museum held its first gathering focused on deer. Future gatherings will focus on silver salmon, duck, octopus and kelp, just to name a few.
Laktonen Councellor says the project will combine all available knowledge- traditional and scientific- to bring to light best practices for the preservation of subsistence foods.
— (Wild Food 3 :38 sec "In addition to some of the favorite recipes, there are also traditional methods of putting up food. One of the strengths of this project is that we’re bringing together that traditional knowledge with other professional western knowledge from members of the community who might not be Native. There are certain things that have come up in the news in recent years where people are trying to make Native foods but are using a mixture of Native prep methods with western materials; like trying to make fermented whale blubber using plastic bags which can cause botulism which is really dangerous. So there is a lot of information that people need about the safe ways to prepare foods.")
Monthly gatherings will be announced as they are scheduled. Laktonen Councellor says that the museum is interested in hearing from members of the community about their knowledge and experience with traditional subsistence foods. You can contact her through the museum’s website or head to KMXT.org for more information.