The idea, help the community become healthier while doing things like clam digging, berry picking, and fishing. Since 2009, SEARHC has been offering the ‘wisefamailies’ program in Wrangell. The program teaches techniques for harvesting and preserving subsistence foods as well as a number of traditional crafts. Last summer local Tammi Meissner stepped down as program coordinator, and recently hired to manage the program is native Ken Hoyt.
“I came up here for the adzing workshop and that’s when I applied for the job. And I stuck around to be a part of this renaissance going on,” he says.
Hoyt came to Wrangell this past summer to help with the Chief Shakes Tribal House restoration project, and says he’s excited to now be working for SEARHC’s local native program.
The ‘wisefamilies’ program is funded through a grant from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. One focus of the program is diabetes in Southeast Alaska. According to the CDC 16% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have diabetes. Hoyt says getting people out gathering and hunting is a good way to promote an active lifestyle and help reduce chronic illness in the community.
“Nutritionally speaking these are the foods we evolved to eat, but there is also a social aspect of getting people out doing things together,” he says.
Other activities offered through the program include carving, weaving, storytelling, and Tlingit language lessons. Which Hoyt says are important to the overall health of the community.
“The carving, weaving, and drumming are vital to the native people’s self-esteem and identity which the grant is focused on,” he says.
Hoyt is currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American studies at Evergreen State College. Hoyt says some SEARHC events to look forward to include tea gathering, a film festival, storytelling, fish camps, as well as a garden revitalization project in the spring.
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