WCA building smokehouses

Over the past few days, people have been hard at work in and around the WCA carving shed on Front Street, constructing smokehouses. These smokehouses are part of the cooperative association's COVID-19 pandemic response, according to Tribal Administrator Esther Reese. They are using a portion of their CARES Act funding they received for this and other projects, Reese said, to promote food self-sufficiency and a return to a traditional lifestyle among tribal citizens.

About 70 smokehouses are being constructed, she said. For tribal citizens who do not have the space for a traditional smokehouse on their property, or live in an apartment, they are also purchasing 126 Big Chief smokers. They will also be building 140 gardens at citizens' homes.

"The gardens and the smokehouses were part of our food self-sufficiency program," Reese said. "It's all part of our COVID response and continuing on our cultural values."

The WCA will also be hosting a series of workshops to teach those interested in traditional gardening and fish-smoking. At several points in an interview with the Sentinel, Reese emphasized how food self-sufficiency was important to Wrangell's native community, not only for continuing a traditional way of life, but also for supporting one another.

Construction of the smokehouses has only just begun, Reese said, and as of the interview did not have a timeline of when they would be completed. It was dependent on the weather, and how fast crews worked on assembling them, she said. The educational workshops would begin shortly after construction was completed, sometime next year.


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