Reviving Traditional Food Knowledge
Today, Native peoples are overcoming barriers to revitalize their relationship to traditional foods. The barriers are many—polluted shellfish beds, depleted or extinct fish runs, loss of access to land for hunting or gathering wild plant foods, forgotten recipes, the lure of fast food, and lifestyles that leave little time for food preparation and community feasts.
Many Coast Salish tribes, schools, and community groups are now working to revitalize the knowledge and values that have guided them for generations.
The core cultural values around food include:
- Food is the center of culture
- Honor the food chain
- Eat with the seasons
- Eat a variety of foods
Stories of Food and Cultural Values
We sat down with local tribal members and experts to discuss the traditions, special preparations, and greater meaning of food in their culture. Listen to their stories below:
Muckleshoot/Upper Skagit Indian Tribes
- Food is our culture (1:01)
- Prayer sentiment (1:04)
- When a cook prepares food (1:20)
- Acknowledge the cook (0:51)
- Ooligans (1:38)
- In those days (1:10)
- What food means to me (2:12)
George Swanaset, Sr.
- The old ways (1:06)
Traditional foods specialist, Northwest Indian College
Traditional Coast Salish Foods
Stories from the ancestors and the archeological record agree: Native Coast Salish peoples had an incredibly diverse knowledge about the food plants and animals of this region.
Archaeological sites around Puget Sound have found more than 280 plants, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, shellfish and other marine life used as traditional Coast Salish cuisine. Testimony and knowledge from Coast Salish Elders, hunters, fishermen, and gatherers has confirmed and added many more foods to that list.