A Journey to What Matters- Youth, Elder, Active Hunter and Gatherer – Food Sovereignty and Self Governance

Project: Youth, Elder, Active Hunter and Gatherer – Food Sovereignty and Self Governance
Grantee: Inuit Circumpolar Council
Story and photo from: Carolina Behe

On February 25th and 26th, 2019, Inuit from across Alaska and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) came together in Bethel, Alaska to explore Inuit values surrounding our relationships to the environment and the collection and processing of food; Inuit management practices, policies and decision-making pathways; ways of moving toward Inuit Food Sovereignty. The workshop, Youth, Elder, and Active Hunter and Gatherer – Food Sovereignty and Self Governance, was hosted by the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Alaska.

Often times the world does not consider art as part of Food Sovereignty. Within the Inuit world it is – people’s self and community-expression, the choice of materials to use in making art, the role that artists play within each community, the impact of colonialism on decisions and even people’s relationship to all that is around them is connected back to food sovereignty.

With funding provided through The CIRI Foundation, we were able to work with two Inuit artists, Ryan Romer and Britt’Nee Brower, to create art pieces reflective of the discussions they heard during the workshop. Additionally, Britt’Nee facilitated a discussion about the relationships between art/material, culture, and food sovereignty. This discussion included points about the impact of the ivory and seal trade bans, spiritual respect for animals, and the influence of an imposed view of a dominate culture on Inuit concepts of art.

We also encouraged the workshop participants to express themselves in any way they felt comfortable. For some this meant impromptu drumming, singing, and dancing during a break. For others, it meant drawing on a large piece of fabric laid out for all participants to paint on. At times, some participants chose to group around the fabric and draw while having a break-out discussion related to food sovereignty. There is a lot of freedom in moving away from tables and formal discussions to discussions where we are encouraged to speak from our hearts, from our truth.

Winds of Change, 2019. Britt’Nee Kivliqtaruq Brower
Acrylic, Feathers, Beaver, White Fox, Wolf, Seal Skin, Antler and Glitter on Canvas

Food Sovereignty and Art

Story and Art by: Britt’Nee Brower

This workshop was a great opportunity to see all of the commonalities, disconnects and changes in our communities that rely on subsistence hunting and gathering. I had the best experience exploring and discussing important topics with a new found family of individuals, as we adapt to all of the changes affecting our subsistence lifestyle and work together to actively pass down our indigenous knowledge as role models to the future generation.

There is a story of a moon mask with a crescent moon shown alongside the dark side of the moon, or the unknown. In the unknown there are 4 feather spokes that represent the direction of the winds, and each feather represents a wish you would like to see happen. Surrounding the moon is a qupak design representing a drum, the heartbeat of the Inuit culture. The sun shines around the moon to represent the climate change affecting our subsistence calendars. I would like to make 4 wishes to help us adapt to all of the changes and unknowns occurring in the migration routes, hunting & gathering seasons, and weather. Each feather is a wish for helping us predict the weather, adapt to migration and route changes of the animals in the sky, the waters and the land.