Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA)

Background information from CDC: The title of this program is the “Aleut Diet Program.” The project engages in sustainable hands-on opportunities focusing on the healthy preparation and using local traditional foods to promote health and prevent diabetes. The program improves health through increased awareness of the nutritional benefits of traditional foods. Activities include written nutritional content information to accompany traditional foods preparation demonstrations, meal preparation using traditional foods as part of a healthy diet, public dialogue on the role traditional foods play in helping to prevent diabetes and other dietary-related diseases, improvement of the variety of healthy food choices sold in the local stores, and lessening children’s access to sweetened beverages in local stores.

Kids learning how to butcher seal at Camp Qungaayux in Unalaska. Photo courtesy of Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska. 

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA)

Interview with Sue Unger

Unfortunately, the Unangan Tunuu font and characters are not compatible with this blog. To learn more about this font and language, visit the APIA website

What’s your favorite thing about being involved in your traditional foods project?       

Kids learn about ducks at the Urban Unangan Culture Camp in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of APIA.

My favorite part of being involved in our traditional foods project is seeing how traditional foods are an important component of every traditional event and gathering and how local foods are integral to cultural preservation.  Being an active catalyst in the process of encouraging the consumption of healthy locally available foods is exciting.

What traditional foods and physical activities do you have going on this summer?     

This summer there are many activities throughout the Aleutian and Pribilof Region going on related to the hunting, gathering and preparation of traditional foods.  In the community of St. Paul, the Tribe is having fur seal feasts and promoting the use of the local food source, northern fur seal.  The tribal cultural program will be working with youth and mentoring them on techniques for dressing and preparing fur seal for consumption.

In the community of Unalaska, the Qawalangin Tribe will be teaching youth about seine netting for salmon, seal hunting and preparation of traditional foods through its annual Camp Qungaayux.  The traditional food cook will also instruct youth on edible plants that were used as spices for cooking fish and seal meals.

The St. George Traditional Council will mentor youth in the preparation of traditional foods as a component of their ecotourism project with cruise ships visiting the island.  Youth will be mentored in preparing meals such as seal hearts and livers, seal meatloaf, fermented flipper, reindeer stew, fish pie, and moss berry jelly.  These foods will be shared with tourists visiting.

Filleting salmon at Camp Qungaaux in Unalaska.                                                                     Photo courtesy of Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska.

In Anchorage, the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Association Cultural Services Department hosted its 4th annual Urban Unangan Culture Camp.  100 youth between the ages of 3-18 attended the 6 day camp and learned about the preservation and preparation of traditional foods such as fish, seal, birds, sea lion, berries, reindeer and foods from the beach.

How has this project impacted your community?      

Aleut salmon pie. Photo courtesy of APIA.

This project has made a big impact on our communities by promoting the use of local traditional foods and their uses.  Youth and adults have had more access to traditional foods as a result of the camps and other gatherings.  Youth have also acquired the knowledge of how to harvest and prepare a variety of local traditional foods, thus promoting sustainability of the foods.

What are your plans to sustain this project?    

 The Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Association is currently producing a book that documents the historical and present use of traditional foods in the region.  This book contains information on the harvesting, preservation and preparation of local traditional foods as well as cultural and nutritional information on all of the foods locally available. Recipes are included for all of the foods as well.

Be sure to check out our Traditional Foods Recipes page for a delicious recipe on Fast Aleut Salmon Pie.

Special thanks to the Ms. Sue Unger and Ms. Mary Bourdukofsky for sharing their time, recipes, and stories. For more information on the this program, contact Sue Unger at sueu@apiai.org.

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