Healing Our Future

Never in the 10,000 year history of Alaska Native communities have they faced epidemics of cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression, suicide, chronic alcoholism, addiction and domestic violence on the levels we see today. Our Tribal peoples are unable to turn this unfortunate direction around despite many innovative and costly interventions. Each new generation seems to need to learn reasons to be healthy when, historically, it was part of the cultural strength, part of the integrated way of life, to teach and train the youth.

Sourcing and cooking whole natural foods is a foundation stone for all traditional communities. Therefore living successfully  in the modern world also may start with food sovereignty. “Food sovereignty…includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and societies.” Food Sovereignty: A Right for All -Political Statement of the NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty June 2002, Rome

Commodities, alcohol and refined sugars sap the will of the people. In order to heal our future, we must begin by regaining a whole natural foods, both wild and farmed. We must seek to fill the villages with whole grains and beans grown in northern states and Canada as well as Alaska; locally farmed vegetables and fruits; locally sourced fish, eggs and game; combined with wild greens, roots and fruits from the Alaskan forests and oceans. Only through gaining control of the food will we heal the future for the upcoming generations.

Healing Our Future is a project which believes that what we eat creates the quality of our biology and the quality of our biology is the foundation upon which all else is built. Native Alaskans of all ages will come to the healthy safe village of Ionia for two gatherings demonstrating that common sense discussions come alive when based in simple wholesome foods. At these gatherings, we will talk about how to radically change our collected food culture: learn together why and how to replace refined and processed foods (sugar, corn syrup, white flour, processed fats) with traditional and contemporary wholesome foods. We will explore how taking diet seriously can lead to everything else.

This project will teach participants to cook and eat differently than they ever have in their whole life and how and why to share this with others. These free gatherings will give a glimpse of what life would feel like without junk foods. We will cook, we will eat and we will talk. Everyone will be encouraged to bring their children and teens as Ionia has found that youth are an integral piece of a healthy village way of life.  We will use the isolated and beautiful environment of Ionia to gather everyone’s attention for this short period of time and we will rely on the extensive experience of Ionia’s multi-generational residents and Native Sobriety movement leader and Elder Doug Modig. Simple healthy meals, rustic and beautiful log cabins, playful activities and thought provoking discussions will stir and inspire the heart and mind.

For insight on the dimension and spirit of Ionia please go to:  www.ionia.org

Some Alaskan Native families and leaders have, of their own accord, begun to question the possible destructive far-reaching consequences of modern junk and fast foods. They have found their own curiosity about personal dietary change yet have little company and no easy pathways toward this. These gatherings will provide a window of experience to deepen their understanding, develop strategies for their home communities, find support from each other and of course deepen their practical cooking skills.

We expect that Healing Our Future participants will be surprised and intrigued at how good they feel on simple whole foods.  We expect that they will leave inspired and hopeful about facilitating changes in their home villages and towns. We expect that cooking will be added to their every day life at home and that participants will be encouraging their family and friends to join them in this.  We also expect that they will have a backing and forthing process about incorporating this change into their real lives and that they will find, over time, ways to return to Ionia on their own and to create a deeper way of life change in the villages.

If we continue on the current path, our collected future is in peril. Thus, the name of this project was dreamt of: Healing Our Future.