Food from the Sea Heritage Kit

Food from the Sea Heritage Kit

Credit: 
Image © 2021 Brandon Moonin

During a climatic warming period approximately 10,000 years ago the coastal glaciers of South Central Alaska retreated and indigenous peoples from the north moved into this newly ice-free zone. The land itself was crammed with steep mountains, densely forested, and had relatively few large animals available for food. By necessity the Sugpiat and Eyak people turned to the sea for their livelihood and developed a coastal subsistence lifestyle. The natural resources of the land and especially the ocean allowed the Sugpiat and Eyak to not only sustain themselves through the long winters but harvest enough surplus food and goods to become part of the extensive Alaskan Native trade network.

The Sugpiat and the Eyak people developed efficient techniques and skills to hunt and preserve sea mammals, catch and dry fish, and identify and process the many foods of the intertidal zone, one of the most densely populated habitats in the world. As the saying goes, “When the tide is out, the table is set.” It is important to teach the younger generation what this rich habitat has to offer and how Alaska’s Native peoples have integrated these foods into their traditional diet.

Insights gained through the intergenerational sharing of knowledge, where to hunt seal, when to harvest octopus, and how to ferment fish eggs are the result of careful observation and experimentation. The importance of conservation, don’t harvest more than you need and beware of waste are well-honed cultural directives on how to maintain a healthy relationship with the environment. The details of how to braid seal intestines or singe the hair from a sea lion flipper are both important and practical. All of this is part of traditional ecological knowledge, the life sustaining science of place.

In this heritage kit students learn to recognize and appreciate this ‘store outside their door’ and the traditional subsistence lifestyle of which it is a part. Through interviews and interactions with Elders students learn to appreciate how local Native culture is tied to the sea. Students investigate tides and their cycles and explore the micro habitats of tidal edibles on frequent field trips. They observe how to harvest and process various foods from the sea and then try it themselves. They clean and prepare the foods and share the ocean bounty. Students learn how to set the table.

Items in Collection: 
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Ingam-atya
Category
Book/Publication
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
A collection of legends, stories, and photographs from the Chugach Region.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This book explores the history, heritage, and traditional life of Alutiiq communities, predominantly from Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
Based on a Yupik tale as told by Betty Huffman, this story centers on a young boy named Amik who is sent out by his grandmother to find food.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Ingam-atya
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
The book is a compilation of personal accounts directly from Chenega community members.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
A children's book that, through colorful illustrations and informative text, introduces readers to the various tidal creatures and how they adapt and live in tidal zones.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This guide provides tools and information to identify squids and octopods from the eastern North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. The book includes a key to 44 species, and contains drawings, photos, and maps to indicate physical attributes and habitats.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This highly colorful and illustrated picture book teaches about life in the tidal zone through playful rhymes.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This book provides a wide array of activities geared towards elementary school students that involves mazes, connect the dots and more, while simultaneously containing information about sea organisms such as sea kelp, anemone, crabs, snails, and more.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This work uses photos, illustrations, and text to guide readers through identifying, harvesting, and preparing seaweed for consumption.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This book is an illustrated guide to 147 wild plants indigenous to Alaska, western Canada and the Northwest. Readers will learn how to identify, harvest, and use plants for medicinal purposes or consumption, if applicable.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Nanwalek
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
Created to share how the people of Nanwalek have responded to climate change -- includes descriptions, stunning photographs, and a wide array of quotes directly from community members that propel the narrative.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This work documents the traditional Eyak stories and legends as told by Anna Nelson Harry.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This work investigates the intertidal ecosystem and how organisms act and react to each other in this unique and cyclical environment.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
Qaqamiigux is a compilation of the stories, experiences, recipes, and wisdom shared by elders, food preparers, and hunters from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Region of Alaska about the use of traditional / local foods, from the land and sea.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This illustrated booklet describes wildnerness sources of nutritious foods -- both for an emergency and for everday living. 
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Nanwalek, Paluwik, Taatiillaaq, iiyaaG, Ingam-atya
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
The work presents a summary of the information gathered from interviews with Elders at Nuchek, Port Graham, Nanwalek, Tatitlek, Chenega, Cordova, and Anchorage.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
Full Translated Sugt'stun version of the English picture book "Eye of the Needle", a Yupik story told by Betty Huffmon, written and illustrated by Teri Sloat.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This work represents an expanded version of the first edition which explores traditional foods with a focus on nutritional information and preparation techniques.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Ingam-atya
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This classroom project includes a compilation of illustrations from students and stories that students collected from Elders and community members pertaining to salmon.
Community
Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation, Ingam-atya
Category
Book/Publication
Summary
This book is written from the 1974 notes of Bobby Stamp and capture valuable knowledge pertaining to traditional life in Chenega.