The National Indian Health Board hosted the National Tribal Health Conference (NTHC) in Anchorage this May at the Dena’ina Center.
NTHC is the premier gathering for American Indian and Alaska Native health policy and public health. It showcases the interconnectedness of policy, advocacy, and Indian health best practices. The weeklong event has speaker circuits, an exhibit hall, dinners and award galas.
NMS attended as a leading provider of integrated support services for the healthcare industry. This event was significant to us as an Alaska Native-owned business that finds ways to incorporate indigenous culture and traditions into our operations. We had a presence at the exhibit hall, giving visitors an overview of the traditional food program we run at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
The Alaska Native Medical Center is the largest tribal-run health organization in the country and the starting place of the Traditional Native Foods Initiative. This innovative, sustainable program is built around the belief that traditional foods heal. Executive Chef Amy Foote leads the program, creating a menu using about 60 percent traditional ingredients. Chef Amy explains, “Our patients come from all over the state, from different climates, with different palates. Traditional food is familiar. It brings home to them.”
NTHC attendees were able to experience the program when NMS catered “Culture Night” at the conference. Guests were taken to the Alaska Native Medical Center, where they were provided a fished and foraged Alaskan Bounty. The menu included Alaska Native staples like salmon, fiddlehead ferns, herring eggs, hooligan, blueberries, dandelion oil, and more. Organizations like Maniilaq Association, Tustumena Smoke House, and Space Farming Institute donated food for the event.
The menu put a modern twist on traditional foods, with dishes like Reindeer sausage with cranberry mustard and rosehip chutney — and a Chaga chocolate mousse cup with birch toffee.
“The event was spectacular.” – Derrell Webb, VPO, FFM.
The dinner was so popular it reached max capacity. Our vision is to have traditional food programs implemented across the country. It was an honor for us to do one of the things we do best at NMS: using traditional foods to heal patients.