Many years ago, members of Pacific Northwest tribes subsisted on a wide diversity of foods from the sea and land. More than 300 fish, shellfish, greens and berries graced their seasonal menus and shaped their cultural lifeways.
“The foods that were eaten here were a huge pillar of our culture,” says Valerie Segrest, a Muckleshoot tribal member and a Native nutrition educator at Northwest Indian College. “They’d follow the huckleberries. Twenty varieties grew from the seashore to the higher elevations; they would follow them as they ripened.”
Today, such a life has become virtually impossible. “First of all,” Segrest notes, “there was a loss of land and a loss of rights. There is the issue of environment toxins now, the cultural oppression around harvesting food, invasive species that have come into our environment and changed it. There’s a lack of time. Now in our modern world people have jobs…
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