Before the ceremonial start Saturday of the 2018 Iditarod, veteran musher Ketil Reitan of Kaktovik remarked on how fewer Inupiaq people are dog mushing nowadays. Fewer than 10 mushers out of the 67 competing in this year’s Iditarod are Alaska Native.
There’s a traditional foods movement happening in Alaska. Dieticians, administrators, and others are trying to get more wild foods like moose, berries, and beach greens into health care facilities and schools. But there’s one food that elders really, really want, and they aren’t allowed to have: seal oil.
Most people in northwest Alaska grew up eating traditional foods, like caribou, seal, and different kinds of fish. But as they aged and moved into long-term care facilities, those foods were no longer regularly available to them because of federal food safety regulations. A team in Kotzebue is changing that.
Alaska Native artist Amber Webb hand stitched an oversized kuspuk from white, cotton sheets she bought at a thrift store. In permanent marker, she drew the faces of more than a dozen Alaska Native women who have been murdered or are missing.