By Tammy Meissner, SEARHC Health Educator
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Fifth Annual Alaska Plants as Food and Medicine Symposium was held in Anchorage on September 11 – 13. This year’s theme was “Preserving Our Bounty.” My dad, a Tlingit Elder, and I felt honored for the opportunity to network with other stakeholders who use and preserve traditional Alaskan plants.
During the two and a half day symposium, we listened to motivating lectures and participated in hands-on classes. Topics at the symposium focused on the use of traditional plants and how to integrate them as part of a holistic lifestyle and into wellness organizations. Participants including elders, healthcare workers of every level of medicine, and laypeople aided us in gaining a personal and communal knowledge base of harvesting, preparing, and using Alaskan plants as food and medicine.
The symposium also provided opportunities to share and learn in the areas of self-sufficiency, sustainability and ensuring future generations will have access to the skills to use plants in traditional ways. With this new knowledge and connection with other stakeholders we (a tribal elder and tribal community member) hope to pass on the information we gathered to our own communities. During the breakout sessions, I was ab le to share the National Native Network’s Traditional Foods Resource Guide with other stakeholders, which can be viewed HERE.
I highly recommend attending the Annual Alaska Plants as Food and Medicine Symposium for the gain of personal knowledge but also in broadening networks with others involved in holistic wellness. You can contact Kim Aspelund at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, 907-729-3639 or email@example.com for more information.