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The Living Breath of Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ

Tribal community member's food booths (11/14)

January 31, 2015

by Charlotte Coté and Dian Million, American Indian Studies

Tribal community member’s food booths (11/14)

In late September UW’s American Indian Studies Department held their second annual symposium entitled, The Living Breath of Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ: Indigenous Ways of Knowing Cultural Food Practices and Ecological Knowledge. The symposium brought together internationally renowned speakers from the United States and Canada who shared their knowledge and expertise on topics such as tribal food sovereignty initiatives, food justice and security, traditional foods and health, and indigenous foods systems and global climate change.

UW Native faculty and students coordinated the symposium in response to the need to create a space at UW where indigenous food autonomy and environmental justice issues could be discussed. Two of the coordinators, Charlotte Coté and Dian Million, are affiliated faculty with the Canadian Studies Center. Their hope is that this annual event will serve to foster dialogue and build collaborative networks as Native peoples strive to sustain their cultural food practices and preserve their healthy relationship to the land, water, and all living things.

In March 2015 the UW will open the doors to the Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ, a longhouse-style building that pays homage to Coast Salish culture and architectural traditions. Coté says their event symbolizes the living breath of the Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ and embodies the essence of the work they envision doing in this intellectual and cultural space. Million adds, “it exemplifies the spirit of sharing, cooperation and commitment to indigenous knowledge and local and national indigenous communities.”

Charlotte Coté (Nuu-chah-nulth) has been teaching in American Indian Studies (AIS) since 2001. Coté serves as co-editor for the UW Press’ Indigenous Confluences series with Dr. Coll Thrush and Dr. Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and co-hosts the UWTV’s Voices of the First People’s film series with Professor Daniel Hart. Dian Million (Tanana Athabascan) has been teaching in AIS since 2002. She also is active in researching community mental health issues in intersection with race, class, gender and identity issues in Indian Country. In particular Million’s present work in felt theory explores the emotional content of colonialism and socio-bureaucratic emotional management in Indian Country.