If part of cultural expression is the preparing and sharing of traditional foods, then TCC Cultural Programs department is doing things right. Dixie Alexander, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs Director, created the Taste of Alaska program where traditional foods are shared with small private groups. Alexander grew up in a traditional subsistence lifestyle in Fort Yukon cooking for her 12 brothers and sisters, so cooking comes natural for her. “While my guests are enjoying soup, I am explaining how we show respect for the animal by using all of its parts,” says Alexander. “We eat the meat, use the bones for tools, tendons for sinew, the hide becomes our clothes, the bladder bag becomes our traditional ‘tupperware’ – even the head is a delicacy.”
The unique experience is appreciated. Alexander recently prepared a meal that featured salmon dip, baked King salmon steaks, and frybread with blueberry jam. “The lunch was out of this world!” said Matt Rogers, Interim Director at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center. “We are in the midst of recruiting new staff for the clinic, and the meal was the BEST recruitment activity we could ever hope to provide.”
In 2011, the Alaska State Council on the Arts chose Dixie Alexander to be among an elite group of Athabascan Indians recognized as ‘living cultural treasures.’ Each was chose for their work to relay their way of life to a new generation of Athabascan children and community members. It is exactly this skill that is allowing the Taste of Alaska program to flourish under Alexander’s leadership.
If you are interested in learning more about the Taste of Alaska program, or booking a meal of your own, contact Dixie at 907.459.3740.