Annual Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine Symposium shares traditional knowledge

October 28, 2016

As the reliance upon imported foods has increased over recent generations and educational dynamics have shifted, a gap in the knowledge, skills and practices related to our traditional Alaskan plants as food and medicine has widened. To help bridge that gap, ANTHC’s Health Promotion program, Wellness and Prevention, holds the annual Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine (APFM) Symposium to promote traditional plant knowledge and ethical harvesting practices. This year’s Symposium took place Sept. 11-13 at the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the theme was “Preserving our Bounty.” The event convened more than 185 attendees and speakers from across Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Canada and New Zealand. The three-day conference consisted of presentations and discussions about utilizing traditional plants as food and medicine, their nutritive and medicinal properties, harvesting traditional plants, methods for preserving plants and more. Additionally, the symposium offered hands-on workshops, plant and wellness walks, networking opportunities and meals were provided which were prepared using traditional foods including fiddleheads, herring eggs, salmon, beach greens, fish heads, seaweed and a variety of berries. Keynote presenters included Dr. Gary Ferguson, senior director of ANTHC’s Community Health Services; Dr. Jillian Stansbury, naturopathic physician; Valdeko Kreil, long term care administrator; Dr. Rosemarie Lambert Range Pere, Maori Elder and traditional spiritual guardian and healer; and author Janice Schofield Eaton. The event was sponsored by: Chugach Foundation; Southcentral Foundation; Trident Seafoods; the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Bargreen Ellingson Restaurant Supply and Design; NANA Management Services; ANTHC’s Elder Outreach Program; and the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation. “We want to thank our sponsors, the members of the Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine planning committee, all the volunteers, the keynote and breakout presenters and all who attended the 2016 APFM Symposium,” said Marcia Anderson, ANTHC Health Promotion program manager. “It takes all these folks and many more to create an opportunity for our community to successfully host an event that allows the sharing of our indigenous plant knowledge.” For more information about the annual Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine Symposium, visit

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