ndigenous Peoples have an implicit understanding of food security and sustainable diets derived from place-based knowledge and livelihoods spanning thousands of years. Informed by their local knowledge and guided by conceptions of living well, Indigenous Peoples are the custodians of a large part of the world’s biodiversity and natural resources. Recent local, national, and international efforts are bringing forward the vast knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to better document food biodiversity and its cultural and nutritional contributions to human well-being. Our intent is for this publication to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Peoples in northern North America to our global heritage of food knowledge.
This web publication has the purpose to describe and to reference the published literature on traditional animal foods known and used by Indigenous Peoples of northern North America. We present information on the locations of the cultures whose peoples have used, and often continue to use, these foods. The publication focuses on Canada, Alaska, Greenland and the northern United States of America, but many of the animal species presented here also occur in the northern latitudes of Europe and Asia. In sum, we present data for 527 species of animals, drawing information from over 490 ethnographic sources, an additional 91 unique sources reporting nutritional information, and 357 sources containing basic biological information.
Environmental changes (e.g. climate change, land-use change, contaminants, biodiversity loss), globalization, industrially produced foods, and dietary simplification threaten the nutrition and health of many indigenous cultures around the globe. These impacts are of major concern to Indigenous Peoples and are the subject of much ongoing research. Here we do not focus on the causes or the consequences of changing traditional food use, only because they are not consistently or reliably documented in the available ethnographic literature, much of which is dated. Instead we focus on describing traditional animal foods used by Indigenous Peoples, in the past and the present, including their use, biology, and nutritional value.
This is a reference guide that we hope will be useful to a variety of users: public health professionals, wildlife resource managers, Indigenous Peoples and the education of their youth, nutritionists, ethnographers, wildlife enthusiasts, the variety of organizations serving Indigenous Peoples, and academics working in several disciplines. The presentation is in academic style that is as user-friendly as practical for this large amount of information.