Aging with Change

Aging with Change

  What is a recipe? I have been thinking about this question over the many years of learning about food in the Bering Strait region of Chukotka and Alaska while conducting research alongside my wife Sveta, who is a cultural anthropologist.
  When our Chukchi, Yupik, and Iñupiaq mentors teach us how to prepare the food their families eat, they talk about visual beauty, aroma, texture, taste, love, patience, hard work, sharing, and spirituality. They also share their knowledge of how to harvest, process, and preserve products made from marine and terrestrial mammals, fish, mushrooms, and plants. This knowledge includes an understanding of animals, seasons, climate, weather, terrain, soils, tools, equipment, and all the aspects of the built environment used at different stages of food preparation. Similar to the Native cuisines in other parts of Alaska, the foodways of the Bering Strait involve ice cellars, drying racks, smokers, and many different types of barrels, buckets, and other containers used for aging and fermentation. All of these complex relationships interact with the creativities of individual chefs, and with their continuous awareness of which foods to serve to elders, youth, and others in their community and family.
  Aging with Change refers to the everyday ingenuity of making Native foods and utilizing the traditional methods of fermentation in a rapidly changing environment. It is the name of the interactive installation we presented during the 2018 Festival of Native Arts, where visitors were invite you to contemplate “recipe” as way of creating beauty through food amidst a multitude of social, material, and environmental interactions.

Acknowledgements

  The tasting menu during the Alaska Festival of Native Arts featured walrus, bowhead whale, bearded seal, spotted seal, caribou, nunivak, sour dock, blackberries, and cloudberries shared generously by our mentors in the Weyiouanna family of Shishmaref and the Koonooka and Apassingok families of Gabmell. Our friend Jake Pogrebinsky shared the salmon strips, and he also helped in the days prior to the show opening with the onsite construction led by the incredibly energetic and dedicated artist carpenter Ryan Tinsley. Artist Chris Ehlers carved the wooden platters.
   We are wholeheartedly grateful for the support of all the families in the communities of Enmelen, Nunligran, Sireniki, Novoe Chaplino, Provideniya, Lorino, Lavrentia, Uelen, Little Diomede, Gambell, Savoonga, and Shishmaref, who through the years have been giving us a home while sharing their food and knowledge. We also thank Kellie Lynch, Christina Edwin, Grace Ongtowasruk, Kayli Apatiki, Maria Jacobson Panozo, UAF Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity program, UAF Institute of Northern Engineering and especially the staff members Crystal Mallioux, Alexis Bystedt, Ayden Harris, Kelly James, and Derek Miller, and the National Science Foundation Arctic Social Sciences Program for the for the many kinds of help and support that made this show possible.
  Aging with Change is part of an ongoing and growing synergy in research, education, and community involvement. We could not do this work without the inspiration from our families and friends, colleagues in different fields of humanities and sciences, the welcoming multidisciplinary environment we enjoy as researchers at the UAF Institute of Northern Engineering, and our students in the Anthropology, Art, Ethnobotany programs at UAF, where we are so happy to be teaching.
Bibliography section article Bibliography Section Catalog Bibliography Section Web Link PDF icon small Sold Dot