When Penelope Easton, a young World War II veteran with a Masters in Public Health Nutrition, embarked on her 1948 journey to serve as the dietary consultant for the Alaska Territorial Health Department, she was grateful for her independent, "make do" spirit of adventure, which she had developed as a child growing up in Vermont during the Great Depression. New to Alaska, she was not prepared for the devastating effects of measles and tuberculosis epidemics, the scarcities of imported food supplies, prevailing educational philosophies detrimental to the Native cultures, and the derision of native foodways. Fascinated by the indigenous foods of Alaska-such as muktuk (strips of whale skin and blubber)-she took every opportunity to learn about Native Alaskan peoples. As she gained knowledge, Easton realized the need for public health personnel to know the vastly different regional resources. She became an advocate for preserving native food traditions. In Learning to Like Muktuk, Easton draws on her detailed field reports, photographs, and letters to convey a new perspective on the interactions of Native and non-Native groups at a critical point in Alaska's history. She describes her experiences helping hospitals and children's homes with food procurement and service, preparing regional nutritional information materials, and working with educators and public health nurses. Penelope Easton loved the beauty of Alaska and enjoyed the natural resources of the land and sea. Threaded throughout her book are stories of her adventures: a tumultuous flight through a glacial storm, a night spent on the frozen tundra, a trip with a daredevil bush pilot, and the excitement of a whale harvest. In an epilogue she describes her return visits to Alaska as a member of research teams from 1996 through 2005. Book jacket.
Learning to Like Muktuk
Oregon State University Press
An Unlikely Explorer in Territorial Alaska
Mind, Body & Spirit