Feasting is part of our Culture

by Peter Twitchell

100-200 years ago Mother Nature was our friend, it provided for our food and heat. You didn’t need much else – our Native people back then weren’t money driven, but they cared a lot about their needs, and Elders were cared for.

No one depended on the handouts of others. They were one with the Tundra/Land which provided for them and they in turn respected her and one another.

Our Ancestors were a strong breed, and they took care of each others’ needs. It’s been in our DNA since time in memoriam.

My Grandma/Mom always said, “There are no other people because we are all related.” That is the common denominator in our genes!

Our people were very Spiritual. They taught us ‘love’ in the home. We were taught to love all living people, animals, birds, even insects.

My cousin Juanita will be sitting on the Tundra having a snack after picking berries all day and marvel at the spider’s web, how precise the weaver was. We were told “bugs” like spiders kept us from getting sick by keeping bugs that could make us sick away from us.

Those who cared to listen to our Elders lived long healthy lives.

I observe the agility of the dragon fly and how they will catch in mid-air mosquitoes. Those that were buzzing around me or lit on my Grandma Hannah’s scarf. Without dragon flies I’m afraid mosquitoes would feast on us always.

I was told as a boy I could run as fast as I could across the Tundra but in a short time only as the mosquito with it’s ferocious appetite to feed it’s young would make sure I never ran again.

Let’s look at why we feast as Native people. We feast all the time, it’s a joyous occasion when we do. Feasting is our culture, it’s healthy and spiritual.

We gather after a loved one’s death, birth, First Catch, honoring our dead and those still living. It takes the sadness out of our minds and puts joy in our hearts. It’s a social life we treasure and uphold.

My wife told me once and its stuck with me ever since when she told me. “I can go to a home anywhere in Alaska where there is a feast and always be welcomed with a smile and they share their food after blessing it, and I have always been blessed with good health, rejuvenated, never got sick.”