Wrangell meets with Kake on traditional foods
Ken Hoyt, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium traditional foods program director, took a trip to Kake last week to take part in the town’s annual “Kake Day” and to hold a series of meetings with his SEARHC counterparts in the business of keeping elders and members of the Native community well fed all year round.
In addition to Hoyt, Wrangellites Sue Stevens, Tommy Rooney, Joel Churchill and Mary Lou Churchill made the trip as representatives of the SEARHC traditional foods project.
“We are working under the same grant and in a similar project with Kake,” Hoyt said. “We have been inspired by a lot of this they been doing. For instance, they built a smokehouse even before we did.”
The group held its series of meetings at the Kake Presbyterian Church.
Hoyt added that reopening of barter lines between the two communities was an important part of the trip.
“In the past, we have traded hooligan and seaweed between the two communities, and they have always been kind of the big brother or mentor in these things,” he added. “Before I got here, their ‘Healing Heart Council’ met with us and helped Wrangell through a grieving process after some deaths happened in our community. So, we have had a solid relationship in the past, but we wanted to go have some face time with them.”
Hoyt added that the two communities are working on resources for the next Gathering.
“It will be a calendar, in a booklet style, that will have a different plant for every week of the year,” he added. “You’ll be able to take that with you and gather plants or berries in our region.”
The combined group also took part in some traditional dancing there as well.
“The highlight for us was getting to dance with the famous Keex’kwaan dancers, who invited us to take part,” Hoyt said. “It was Kake Day, so it was kind of their big holiday celebrating their history. It was cool because they played one of the songs we gave them a while back.”