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Land and Environment

“Stewardship of the animals, land, sky and waters”

-Kodiak Alutiiq Cultural Value

Much like we have relationships with our mothers and fathers, our best friends, and our significant others, many indigenous people have a relationship with the land and environment. This is a spiritual and sacred connection. Alaska Native people maintain a rich and rewarding relationship with their environment. They live in harmony with animals, birds, fish, and plants that they have depended on for centuries. They are able to provide food for their families while also respecting these resources. Daily gathering, hunting and fishing activities require families to closely work together. While doing so, they learn the traditional values of cooperation, hard work and sharing.

Taking care of the land and having reverence for all living plants and creatures is a spiritual practice that has been passed on throughout time. Spiritual practices are very much part of the cultural identity that promotes the wellbeing of Alaska Native people. What’s more, this connection to the land and providing for your family promotes resilience, meaning the ability to overcome adversities and hardships. 

Resilience

Resilience is the ability one has to overcome and recover from challenges. Traditional ways of harvesting and taking care of the land and resources promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to the resilience of Alaska Native people. The spiritual connection to the land helps them to overcome adversities.

“You see all those plants and animals? Does it mean anything to you? The Native people live on that. Many years ago the plants were used for medicine. And the animals eat those plants. The plants and animals were healthy and so were the people.”

-Chief Peter John, “The gospel according to Peter John”, with commentaries edited by David J. Krupa. Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Watch the video Cultural Resilience: Reclaiming Indigenous Health to learn about resilience and various aspects of health recognized by Native communities:

Resources

Read the “Raven Finds Water” story to learn about how some Alaska Native cultures see how all things are related. 

Other resources:

This content was written by Debbie Demientieff (Deg Xit’an Athabascan), Project Coordinator with ANTHC Injury Prevention. 

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