We are what we used to eat

Han Hip Hop at the variety show at Myth and Medium 2016

February 19 to 22 will see the latest edition of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department’s bi-annual Myth and Medium week. In the past, these cultural weeks have focussed on stories and drama, but Traditional Knowledge Specialist Jody Beaumont says this one will be themed around food. She’s a little surprised that this theme wasn’t one of the first ones considered, as it seems so obvious.

The first day will feature an afternoon cooking workshop at the Robert Service School; guest speaker Art Napoleon will work with the Grade 8 Foods class. Napoleon is a member of the Saulteau First Nation in north-eastern B.C. and is based in Victoria. He is variously described as a TV producer/songwriter/adventurer/wild game foodie/ weekend shape-shifter and extreme berry picker.

The evening event at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, will be a literal and figurative potluck, beginning with an actual meal and then moving on to a dozen 3-minute food and culture “appetizer” talks and then a “main course” presentation by Napoleon.

Several elders will provide the “dessert” in the form of closing comments, spiced with Nora Van Bibber’s cranberry shortbread.

All of this should run from 7 o’clock to 9, with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

There will be morning presentations on Tuesday and a practical workshop on Wednesday, along with the popular Language Variety Show, which often features some Hän Hip-Hop.

Both afternoons will move across the street to the TH Community Hall and its parking lot, for experiential activities that run over both days and are food related.

Tuesday evening will feature arts and entertainment, with a concert by Napoleon, a film screening, a play reading, shadow puppets and some film footage from TH Hunt Camps.

Wednesday evening will be a little more formal, with a talk about caribou (wëdzey), another on food security by Wayne Horowitz, a reading and a caribou project report.

On Thursday the symposium will ask “How does a Museum Taste?” at the Dawson City Museum, where Alex Somerville will discuss and show flavours from history.

There will be an Elders and Land Users Roundtable discussion to close off the morning.

Adventurous souls may hike to the Tr’ochëk Heritage Site and back in the afternoon with Cathie Findlay-Brook, while others may chose to explore local teas and salves with Fran Morberg-Green at the cultural centre.

The Myth and Medium week will officially close with a traditional feast and dance on Thursday evening, with food provided by TH elder Victor Henry and other TH citizens, the Moosemeat Men. Music for dancing and enjoyment will come from the people who will be taking in the fiddling and jigging workshop, which happens on Friday morning. Students from Old Crow will be joining fiddlers from Robert Service School for this.

“We wrap on Thursday night with the feast,” said Beaumont, “but because the jiggers and the fiddlers with the Old Crow program will be here, because they will be in town, we’ve tacked on another dance on the Friday night, which happens to be Heritage Day.”

At this writing, some parts of the program have not been fully fleshed out. Changes will be posted on the Dawson City website. Go to www.DawsonCity.ca and click on “Events.” There you will find a link to the Myth and Medium week with a schedule of events.

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Singers open the Myth and Medium gathering in 2016. PHOTOS: Dan Davidson

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