KTVA CBS 11 News
Iñupiat elders in nursing facilities may be able to go back to their traditional diets of wild caught foods like moose and seal soon.

Video: Traditional Foods to Be Served to Elders in Nursing Facilities


What happens to traditional diet when Alaska Native elders move into long-term care facilities? That diet gets put aside for one certified by the United States Department of Agriculture, which wild caught foods like moose and seal are not, reports KTVA CBS 11 News.

“We shouldn’t allow our residents, our elders who grew up off the land and lived off the land all their lives to be eating stuff they’re not really accustomed to,” Paulette Shuerch told KTVA. She has been teaching regulators from across the country about what the Iñupiat people eat. As KTVA points out, diet isn’t just about the food—it’s about history and identity.

Cyrus Harris, a hunter, and the Maniilaq Association have been leading the charge in Kotzebue, Alaska to get traditional foods back on elders’ plates. The door was recently opened a bit for this change when the U.S. Farm Bill relaxed federal rules.

KTVA says the first traditional meal could be served to elders in the care facility as soon as this month.

“The community hunters take care of the community elders,” Harris told KTVA. “My thought was, we’ve been doing this for thousands of years, so let’s do it the same way we’ve been doing it all these years.”

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