Co-authored by Elise Krohn.
Not that long ago, the ancestors of the Northwest Coastal people gathered a vast assortment of foods for subsistence. Hunting, fishing, harvesting, processing and preparing these foods was woven into everyday life. As foods became available throughout the seasons, the people would travel to traditional harvesting grounds to collect what was available at that time. Ceremonies were held to pray for continued abundance and to honor the foods.
During colonization, these traditions were suppressed and people were no longer able to access their foods. As a result, the stories and language that celebrate these cultural practices are diminished in the present day; native foods like camas, soapberry and even salmon have become scarce. Modern-day tribal people face many barriers in accessing such foods. Loss of land, loss of rights, economics, food regulations, environmental toxins and a loss of knowledge are just a few of the many impediments to increased consumption of traditional foods.
As a response to these barriers, a movement is happening among tribal people in Western Washington to improve individual, family and community wellness by revitalizing traditional food culture. For many tribal people of the Northwest, the roots, berries, wild game, shellfish and fish are more than foods; they are regarded...