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Sustainable Harvesting and the Alaskan Foodie

*By Vivian Mork Yeilk'
My mother squished a blueberry and put it in my mouth. Everything was new. I was new. She walked me through the forest, setting me on the forest floor beneath a large spruce tree. Though I don’t remember any of it, she said I felt the wet, cool earth beneath me and I didn’t cry but looked around. She wanted me to know the scent of the world; to know how it felt, how it smelled and what it looked like. She wanted me to belong here.This is how she introduced me to the land where my ancestors have been for thousands of years. 
I was born into the time of year that is prime harvesting for devil’s club. Many people know me as the devil’s club lady. Today, I’m an Alaskan Native traditional foods and medicines expert. Sometimes, even my mother asks me about how to harvest s’áxt’ (devil’s club) or spruce tips. I hold a certification from Rutger’s University in biologically analyzing plants, in addition to a Masters in Cross Cultural Studies, where I studied Indigenous…

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