Check out Chantae Kochuten’s report about the Arctic Indigenous Youth, Climate Change, and Food Culture (EALLU) Workshop in Kautokeinio, Norway. Click here to view the pdf version of this report: EALLU Project Report Feb 2017

What did I do?

Earlier this year I traveled to Kautokeino, Norway to attend a workshop on the EALLU Project. Kautokeino is a small Saami village in northern Norway. Kautokeino is the center of the largest area of Saami reindeer herding in all of Arctic Europe. The EALLU Project is being organized by the International Center for Reindeer Husbandry. The goal of the project is to maintain and further develop a sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in the Arctic in the face of climate change and globalization, while working towards a vision of creating a better life for circumpolar reindeer herders. The project proposes that knowledge about reindeer herders’ food culture is essential to the future ability to adapt to changes in the Arctic and maintain cultural and economic sustainability.

One of the main deliverables of this project is going to be an educational cookbook containing recipes from indigenous groups from around the Arctic. During this workshop we saw presentations from indigenous youth about their food cultures, particularly surrounding reindeer. From this information, the EALLU Project hopes to build chapters on 8 indigenous peoples from across the Arctic to be placed into the cookbook.

What was important about it?

Passing along traditional knowledge of food culture is an important piece of preserving and passing on traditional knowledge to younger generations. Youth today not only have to be taught the traditional knowledge of their food culture but they also must be aware of the changes that are happening in the Arctic so as to be able to adapt their food culture along with their environment.

Food culture for Alaska Native indigenous groups has drastically changed since the time of Western contact. A lot of food traditions were abandoned and/or lost due to the abrupt change in their lifestyles. It is important to begin passing traditional knowledge on to the younger generations to ensure its sustainability.

Understanding climate change and the science surrounding the issue is important because it gives individuals the tools to better adapt their food culture to their surrounding environment. Future generations will be able to make sense of changes in their food cultures over time if they understand how climate change can affect the food they are eating.

This topic is very important to the Aleut region as most of the Aleut people live off of the ocean. Marine environment is and has been drastically changing over the years. The EALLU Project connects food culture to climate change to make sense of and preserve traditional knowledge. A youth’s ability to adapt their food culture in and effort to preserve it will be better enabled if they understand the reasons behind the changes (i.e. climate change). For example, fish stocks, migration patterns, and food supplies are all affected by climate change and if one could better understand how and why they are affected they are better equipped to adapt and continue their traditions. This method of thinking and living could also contribute to continuing research on climate change by people reporting on their observations of their food culture related to the effects of climate change.

We did not write an entire cookbook in the three days we were in Kautokeino but we did start valuable conversations and dialogue about our goals for the main deliverable. Upcoming work on this project includes several sessions in Russia and Norway in the months leading up to the Arctic Council ministerial. The hope is to present the cookbook to the Arctic Council Ministers at the Ministerial meeting in May in Fairbanks, AK. I hope that the Arctic Council recognizes the value in this project and supports further editions of the cookbook to cover different groups of indigenous peoples from across the Arctic.

I want to thank the Aleut International Association and the International Center for Reindeer Husbandry for providing me with the necessary funding to participate in the EALLU Project. This experience has altered my perspective towards food and cultural preservation; now that I better understand the connection I realize the importance of this issue.

 

Highlights & Photos

During the workshop we participated in making reindeer blood sausage. In the photo above a Saami woman is filling the intestines with reindeer blood and fat from around the stomach. The mixture is thickened with flour before being put inside of the intestines.

 

 

During the week workshop participants and CAFF members got to see a reindeer being slaughtered. In the photo above Issat Turi is slaughtering the reindeer and Ludmilla Gasillova, Nadezhda Gerasimova, and Marta Okotetto are about to try raw reindeer liver from a Saami reindeer to compare the taste to the reindeer they have in their food cultures.

 

Throughout the week workshop participants were able to engage in valuable networking through one-on-one conversations with members of the CAFF Working Group. Photo Credit: CAFF Working Group photographer

Professor Ludmilla Gasillova brought fish strips with her from Russia to share with the group. The Russian and Unangan word for dried salmon strips is the same although they are prepared differently.