I know you love tepeq (ground fermented salmon heads)

by Elena Aluskak

Tepeq is our summer delicacy – ALL of us. And we ALL know the traditional process followed to produce that certain fermented taste of this unique seasonal dish. I am very sure you understand what I am talking about, right? And you know, because it is my family’s favorite summer meal – I know it is your family’s favorite…anyone’s and everyone’s. So, I’m always compelled to serve it to everyone and anyone that turns up to my fish camp … and better yet, I expect the plate to be cleaned off – to the last bone picking by the time hot tea and assaliaq is going to be served.

Yes – I expect this, because that is how my family operates when it comes to this dish. Because I know ALL families are the same – anywhere and everywhere – and ALL families will like what my family likes, and ALL families operate the exact same way, anywhere and everywhere.

What do you think?

Factually, I do have some family members who will get a whiff and choose to stay upwind and choose not to stay around while my husband, a couple of our children, grandchildren and I enjoy the meal.

And factually, I am very aware that not everyone has the acquired taste to enjoy this delicacy – and I am respectfully okay with that. I was not brought up to ‘force feed’ anyone who chooses not to enjoy it because we are very aware of how ‘flavorful’ this certain dish is.

Now … about your favorite dish; baked potatoes and shrimp alfredo. I know I have acquired the taste to enjoy your favorite dish. But… there are people out here who may feel the same way as some of my family members do about tepeq. They may steer clear of the table and pinch their noses and stay in their place of comfort. And like me, I know you are respectfully aware of that. I know you were brought up to be humbly okay with them not enjoying your favorite meal with you.


I think we are all intellectually aware of what the result may be of someone who has been force fed … especially of something they have no clue of. The result can be green, gooey, putrid and just plain awful. It can even lead to unintentional illness. Which, in the first place, was not our intention – right?

Our heartfelt good intention was simply to share our favorite meal with them – but the thing we did/do not do was give any consideration for anything else – anything as simple as differences. (period)

This metaphor using favorite meals can easily apply to many, many other differences; social, racial, cultural, language, economic, etc., etc.

Let us all be respectfully aware and do our best to orient ourselves (if we haven’t already) and then strive to work in a way that is relevant to our service area. This simple step of responsiveness will allow us to reach our goals and beyond…

Elena W Aluskak is the Irniamta Ikayurviat Outreach Coordinator/Child Forensic Interviewer.

Example: 9075434113