Monday, July 11, 2005

Alaska Northwest Natives Want Toxin Studies

Alaska Northwest Natives have relied on game such as moose and caribou for thousands of years and have even put them in their Northwest Native art. However, many have seen runny bone marrow in moose and caribou, as well as lesions and parasites in fish. Shawna Larson, who works for Alaska Community Action on Toxins, wonder if toxic chemicals in these traditional foods are making people sick, too. "We see things our elders never used to see," she said. "Why do we have cancer? Why do we have high diabetes?" Larson says evidence linking sickness in the wild food supply to illness in humans needs to be studied. She also is working to change federal standards that measure toxin levels in Alaska's wild foods. The cancer was rare 50 years ago yet today, the disease is the leading cause of death among Alaska Northwest Natives. "Something is wrong," said Larson, who also works for the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We just want to know why we are sick." One wonders if there are more environmental factors as well as social factors such as smokingand poor 'western' diets that are contributing to illnesses.

For other cultural information, see Northwest Native Art Information Resource Articles.

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