Young People Look to Old Ways of Hunting and Gathering

Young Inupiaq girl cutting a fish she caught. Photo by Jenny Miller.
Young Inupiaq girl cutting a fish she caught, in the Sinuk River, Nome, Alaska. Photo by Jenny I. Miller.

National Geographic Young Explorers Charu Jaiswal, Sarah Robert and Jenny Miller are embarking on a one-month expedition to Alaska documenting food scarcity and a revival of hunting and gathering among young people. Follow team’s updates from the field on Explorers Journal.

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We are National Geographic Society’s newest Young Explorers grantees and we’re filming a documentary about young people in Alaska that, in an attempt to improve their food security, are relying on their cultural heritage to hunt and gather. We have also received funding from the Fulbright Foundation’s Killam Community Action Initiative Grant for this film.

The idea for the film started as a conversation between Charu and Jenny about the difficulty of getting healthy and affordable food in Nome, Jenny’s home town. Jenny is an Alaskan Native (Iñupiaq), and she noticed that a lot of her young friends and family were increasingly relying on subsistence to meet their food needs. This despite Alaska importing 90% of its food.

To understand why more and more young Alaskans are going back to hunting and gathering, and to understand what it means to their identities, we will be travelling across the state to interview youth, children, community elders, and activists.

We start off in Nome, where we will be staying with Jenny’s family. There we will accompany young Iñupiat individuals as they fish, process meat, and gather local wild plants. Then we travel to Sitka, where we will learn about the importance of salmon to Sitka’s community, and what parents are doing to teach their young children about how to live off the land. Finally, we end our trip in Anchorage where we will focus on families and the transferring of traditional knowledge between generations.

The three of us met less than a year ago through the Fulbright Foundation’s Killam Fellowship program, and we’re excited to go on this adventure together. You can stay updated on our journey through the Alaskan wilderness with our blogs or by following us on Twitter and Instagram.

 

NEXT: Indigenous Cultures Team Up to Apply Ancient Wisdom to Today’s World

 

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The Young Alaskan Hunters and Gatherers team is made up of three people. Charu, Sarah, and Jenny met through the Fulbright Foundation's Killam Fellowships program. Charu is a Biology student at York University in Toronto, Canada; Sarah is a Film and Media student at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada; and Jenny recently graduated with a BFA in Photomedia and BA in American Indian Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. Jenny is originally from Nome, Alaska and is a tribal member of the Inupiat community.