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Tim Lydon

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Chef Amy Foote and the Traditional Foods Program of Alaska Native Medical Center As executive chef at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Amy Foote is determined to provide the hospital’s Alaska Native and American Indian patients with traditional foods that are both healthy and culturally meaningful, which Foote says can aid healing. Foote’s kitchen provides 5,000 meals a day to inpatients, outpatients, and visitors at the campus hotel. “Our traditional foods program accepts donations, but we also collaborate to see what can be hunted, fished, gathered, or grown. We have Alaska Native-raised reindeer, wild-caught salmon, and seal donated by Alaska Native hunters. I also work with farms and Alaska Pacific University to grow traditional plants, including hydroponically, so we can get the foods that really heal and comfort our patients. I love my job. It requires building partnerships and sometimes getting people to think differently, like when we…

Initiative brings new ideas on public lands management National parks and wildlife refuges are revered as places to find healthy habitat, clean water, and opportunities for recreation and reflection. But the story of our public lands is also marked by mistreatment and displacement of Indigenous people, including here in Alaska. Now, in a project called the Imago Initiative, Indigenous people, federal policy makers, and conservationists are re-thinking how to manage public lands to better align with Indigenous traditions. And they’re starting at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s largest refuge. Meda DeWitt of The Wilderness Society explains that the initiative is meant to foster on-the-land dialogue that integrates Indigenous knowledge and perspective into existing public lands management. Last summer, DeWitt was among a group of Indigenous representatives, conservation group leaders, and agency officials who discussed the initiative while camped in the remote refuge for over a week. “When you’re…

Can Modern Technology Save Ancient Food Storage Techniques in a Warming Arctic? For many centuries, people along the Beaufort and Chukchi seas have preserved whale meat and other foods by digging ice cellars, called siġḷuat, into the permafrost. The cellars can store hundreds of pounds of whale meat, more than any modern household freezer could hold. And North Slope residents like Doreen Lovett, who is director of natural resources for the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS), say they are better at preserving freshness and flavor. Cleaning and maintaining a siġḷuat is also tightly tied to Indigenous whaling practices. In recent years, thawing of permafrost due to anthropogenic climate change has led siġḷuat to leak or collapse, threatening both essential food supplies and long-held cultural practices. In response, ICAS is awarding grants to use long metal pipes filled with refrigerant, called thermosyphons, to protect siġḷuats. The pipes are drilled…

Ceremony included Alaska Natives On Veterans Day, 2022, over 1,500 tribal members from across the United States, including Alaska Natives, participated in a dedication ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial, completed in 2020, is the first Washington, D.C. monument to honor the military service of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The monument was designed by Harvey Pratt, a Marine Corps veteran and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma who served in the Vietnam War. Pratt’s design is intended to include commonalities among tribal groups but also to respect the uniqueness of the nation’s many hundreds of Indigenous cultures. The monument consists of a large stainless-steel circle balanced on a carved stone drum. It is set in a natural area that includes wetlands, benches for gathering or quiet reflection, lances for hanging prayer flags or other mementos, and water…

Lingítin the Classroom A Juneau School District Lingít language and culture program that began in 2000 is expanding. Through a Sealaska Heritage Institute grant and support from the school district, the program recently hired its first permanent principal and is now available to middle school students. In May, the school district hired Eldri Waid Westmoreland as the program’s new principal. Westmoreland, who is Lingít, taught at the preschool, elementary, and middle school levels over three decades. She also owns Math Raven, an Indigenous education, research, and curriculum firm. Molly Box, who served as interim principal for the program for several years, describes it as an elective curriculum that is place-based and uses oral narrative themes and stories often connected to seasonal harvest activities. “It’s very connected to the land and the Lingít culture,” says Box. In addition to hiring Westmoreland, the Sealaska grant will bring in new teachers, additional help…

Each of the 223 parks has a story The Municipality of Anchorage manages 223 parks covering 10,946 acres. Some, like Kincaid Park, are sprawling, while others are pocketed away in urban neighborhoods. Each has a unique story, including these three: Delaney Park (the “Park Strip” along 9th Ave): This downtown centerpiece hosts military monuments and summertime fairs and music. It was first cleared as a firebreak in 1917, then used as a golf course and an airstrip. In the 1920s, it was lined with brothels, which Mayor James Delaney ordered shuttered in the 1930s. Kincaid Park: Stretching between Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm, Kincaid is a local favorite for biking, disc golf, and miles of groomed and lighted ski trails. It was withdrawn from the Chugach National Forest in 1915 and later served as a Nike-Hercules missile battery before the park was pieced together beginning in the 1960s. It is…

Alaska Native Historian Holly Guise on the Value of Oral Histories Alaska Native historian Holly Miowak Guise (Iñupiaq) reflects on how recorded oral accounts connect Alaskans and incorporate Indigenous voices into today’s historical narratives. “Oral history is a powerful way to reach students, academics, and the public, enabling listeners to connect with a speaker, hear about their life, and perhaps more readily empathize with them. It’s also important for integrating Indigenous perspectives missing from Western archives. Oral histories are meant to be listened to. Even when a transcript is available, it’s best to listen to the audio, which offers human voice, character, intonation, and the interactions between the interviewer and interviewee. Today, websites or YouTube channels allow people to hear oral histories from their homes or classrooms. I created a website, ww2alaska.com, during a postdoctoral year at the University of California Irvine that hosts testimonies from Unangax̂ survivors of relocation…

Arctic Fox Joins Seasonal Changes in Alaska The arctic fox is a lively and iconic resident of the north. It lives across treeless coastal areas from the Aleutians to the northern arctic coast and east to the Canadian border. Arctic foxes in the Aleutian and Pribilof islands have a blue color phase that is dark or charcoal colored year-round, although it is lighter in winter. Arctic foxes elsewhere in the state are brown in summer but by November sport a luxurious white winter coat. The arctic fox is a different species than the slightly larger red fox, which is found more broadly across Alaska. Both foxes are omnivorous, but due to its tundra habitat, the arctic fox’s diet often relies on small mammals, including lemmings and tundra voles, nesting seabirds such as puffins and murres, or sometimes berries, eggs, and carrion.

Elements Last September, the remnants of Typhoon Merbok became one of the strongest storms ever known to hit Alaska, bringing 50-foot seas, devastating tidal surges, and hurricane-force gusts to the Bering Sea region. The giant storm impacted over 40 communities along 1,300 miles of mostly low-lying coastline. For many, recovery has been slow. Along Merbok’s path, rural communities lost homes and infrastructure. In the Norton Sound region alone, tidal surges topped a protective storm berm in Shaktoolik and destroyed three miles of road in Golovin. In Nome, winds fanned a fire that destroyed the Bering Sea Saloon. But in rural Alaska, damage to subsistence resources is just as important. Across the region, power outages threatened freezers full of winter food, while flood waters destroyed snowmachines, boats, and other equipment essential for hunting and fishing. Smokehouses, remote cabins, and fish camps—some that have been passed down through generations—were also damaged or…

Big federal parks are a draw for many, but state parks are often local favorites. Alaska has over three million acres of state parks, more than any other state. Its 156 parks stretch from north of Fairbanks to Kodiak to the islands of the southeast panhandle. Some are small, like the 40-acre Halibut Point Recreation Area along Sitka’s road system. Others are sprawling, like the 1.6-million-acre Wood-Tikchik State Park north of Dillingham, which with its clear-water lakes and soaring mountains is the largest state park in the country. Opportunities vary across the state park system. They include full RV hook-ups at the parks along the Alaska Highway between Fairbanks and Tok, or the remote wilderness of the 500,000-acre Chugach State Park outside of Anchorage, where you might see more moose than people. Some parks, like Totem Bight in Ketchikan, are set aside for historical purposes. Others, like the Alaska Chilkat…