SEATTLE – Traditional foods with a twist. Snack bites from Tlingit country, made from coho salmon and spruce tips. Affordable art by a famous Northwest Coast Native artist (and it comes with chocolate!). Here are some very cool products that have emerged recently from Northwest Native America.
Art and chocolate: Three chocolate tins offered by noted Canadian chocolatier Rogers’ Chocolates feature art by Richard Hunt, the Kwaguilth artist and member of the Hunt family of artists. Price ranges from $13.99 to $21.99 and comes with an assortment of milk and dark chocolates (www.rogerschocolates.com). Here’s what Rogers’ writes about each tin.
The Blue Eagle tin: “The Eagle is one of the main crests of the Kwaguilth people of Fort Rupert, B.C. In creating this image, Richard imagined the eagle taking flight in a new direction and soaring to greater heights.”
The Hummingbird tin: “A request from a friend and inspired by family, Richard started at the bottom left and used eagle feathers for the leaves. The top right is his vision of an orchid. The top left are blue bells. The yellow and black flower are the colours of his high school, Vic High. The flower to the left of the Vic High logo represents his Order of British Columbia pin. A very personal and beautiful outcome.”
The Kingfisher tin: “This design represents a Kingfisher eating a stickleback. It is a takeoff of one of two [presentation] poles carved by Richard’s father, Henry Hunt. President Lyndon Johnson and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson were given these poles when they signed the [Columbia River] Treaty.”
Hunt, who lives in Victoria and carved with his father, Henry Hunt, at the Royal B.C. Museum’s Thunderbird Park, said he was approached by Rogers about providing artwork for the tins. He said the tins are an inexpensive – and tasty – way for people to acquire his art, and to learn more about Kwaguilth culture.
“It’s a great way to educate people – and great free advertising because my name is on every tin,” he quipped. He admitted being a fan of the chocolatier, which was founded in 1885 in Victoria. “Not sure which one is my favourite,” he said of Rogers’ confections, “because they’re all good!”
A taste of Native Alaska: When the family wants a snack, how about Alaska Salmon Bites – tender coho salmon bites seasoned with wild Alaska spruce? As the package says, “Cool and herbal in one bite.”
Alaska Salmon Bites is one of the products of DearNorth, which is owned by Huna Totem, an Alaska Native corporation.
“We have been in harmony with our land for over 10,000 years,” the company states on its website (www.dearnorth.com). “We are creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative, while still guided by ancient traditions of sustainability and stewardship. Our ancestors taught us to take only what we need and waste nothing, to respect the fish, plants and animals that nourish us.”
Those values – as well as nutritional value and taste – come through in every DearNorth product: Alaska Salmon Bites (Savory Sea Kelp & Sesame, Spicy Fireweed Honey, Wild Alaska Spruce, Salted Rhubarb & Raspberries, Savory Fireweed, Coriander & Malabar Pepper, Savory Sea Kelp & Sesame), and smoked salmon in three-pint containers.
Go to the DearNorth website for recipes: Cucumber, Tomato, Salmon Bites Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette; Rye Blini With Smoked Salmon & Fennel Slaw, Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, Smoked Salmon Medallions, Smoked Salmon Rillettes, Smoked Salmon Pizza, Salmon Bites Stuffed Avocados, Pearl Couscous Salmon Bites Salad, Salmon Bites Avocado Maki Rolls, Stuffed Halibut Cordon Bleu, Salmon Bites & Strawberry Endive Boats with Cardamom Crème Fraiche, Togarashi Edamame with Salmon Bites.
Making great meals easy: Yup’ik fishermen use dip nets to catch Yukon River keta, or chum, salmon by hand, protecting other salmon species while harvesting. That salmon goes into several of the meals available from Fishpeople.
Fishpeople (www.fishpeopleseafood.com) can make anyone – even this writer – into a chef. The company creates seafood kits, entrees, and soups that you can make at home.
Kits include Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon; Cajun Shrimp & Sweet Pepper Wild Alaskan Salmon; Chipotle & Lime Wild Alaskan Cod; and Garlic Parmesan Potato Wild Alaskan Cod. “Each kit comes with two wild American sustainably-caught fish fillets, a gourmet topper and garnish, a moisture lock tray and foil, and a step-by-step instruction card for foolproof results every time,” the website states.
Entrée starters include Albacore Tuna, Thai Coconut and Lemongrass; Albacore Tuna, Yellow Coconut & Curry; and Wild Salmon & Chardonnay. Each entrée starter contains wild-caught salmon or tuna in a savory sauce. “Simply heat and combine with your favorite vegetable, pasta or rice … a delicious meal in minutes,” the website states.
Bisques and chowders include Wild Crab Bisque with Cold Water Pink Shrimp; Razor Clam and Bacon Chowder; Seafood Chili Blanco; Smoked Oyster and Bourbon Chowder; and Wild Seafood Bouillabaisse. Each comes in a single-serving pouch with instructions for heating on a stove or in a microwave.
The company also sells frozen seafood fillets packaged in individual fillet portions: Wild Pacific Rockfish; Wild-Caught Keta Salmon; and Wild Albacore Tuna.
Here’s another cool feature: Go to the Fishpeople website, click on Trace Your Fish, enter the code on the back on your product, and connect with the people behind every ingredient. I entered the code on the back of my Alder-Smoked Wild Salmon Chowder pouch and learned the salmon was caught in Southeast Alaska and smoked in Eugene, Oregon. I also learned the origin of the fennel, cream, potatoes, onions, corn, red bell peppers, celery, anchovy sauce, sherry, thyme, garlic, canola oil, lemon juice, spices, and bay leaf.
The website also features recipes (seared salmon, Brussels sprouts, kale and pomegranate salad, anyone?)
Enjoy! Or, as they say in my wife’s people’s language, “Ey7 í:lhen” -- good eating!*
* Note: “Ey7 í:lhen” is pronounced “eye (hard throat stop) e-elhen.” (Thank you, Samish Nation general manager Leslie Eastwood, for that teaching.)
“Tribal Sports” basketballs, footballs: Sitka Tribal Sports, Inc. and Baden Sports signed an agreement in 2015 making the Sitka Tribe-owned company the exclusive provider of “Tribal Sports” basketballs and footballs manufactured by Baden.
Sitka Tribal Sports, Inc. was established “to encourage, support and empower Native Alaskan youth – as well as American Indian youth across the country and First Nations youth in Canada – through participation in sports and business,” the company announced in 2015.
Sitka Tribal Sports appointed youth board members who learn about business, marketing and sales. Profits are used to support youth travel so they can participate in academic and sports events and learn how to “win with respect” in a competitive society.
In addition, Baden, a family-owned company based in Renton, Washington, donates a percentage of net sales generated by the partnership to causes supporting Native Americans.
Balls sold by Sitka Tribal Sports – the Elite™, Baden’s highest-quality basketball, and the QB1™, a Baden football designed by former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen -- are branded with the Tribal Sports logo designed by award-winning Tlingit/Aleut artist Nicholas Galanin.
The logo is in the shape of a hand with a raised index finger. “Inside the hand is an image of a spirit face,” Galanin said in a 2015 announcement of the venture. “As my instructor, Louis Minard, taught me, these faces symbolize life and movement … The imagery represents our cultural arts’ ability to continue its relevance across platforms.
He added, “The health of our community through activity and sports is an important priority. As a father, I am grateful to be included on such a project that incorporates our cultural identity with community wellness.”
In an announcement of the venture in 2015, Sitka Tribe general manager Lawrence SpottedBird called the venture “the most rewarding” of all the businesses he has worked with.
“This dream is a result of many years of planning to come together, as an Indian Tribe and a family-owned corporation, to show how this unique partnership can not only make a profit, but also build lives along the way.”
Michael Schindler, CEO of Baden Sports, added, “We are honored and excited to be working with Sitka Tribal Sports on this historic partnership. We believe in the power of sports to create positive change and stand with the tribal leaders in their goals of creating a better present and future for Native youth.”
Tribal Sports products can be purchased by calling Sitka Tribal Sports, 907-747-7290, or going to www.SitkaTribalSports.com.