Sunday, February 6, 2011

Maniilaq: Health Then and Now

Maniilaq started taking bath and told the people that someday they would take baths regularly. This was his only message related to health. The Bible, on the other hand, had laws about what to eat and how to deal with mildew, disease, bodily discharges and waste, and purity. I believe bathing was the only issue Maniilaq addressed because it was the only thing they were capable of changing for the next hundred years.

Inupiaq lifestyle has changed drastically for Maniilaq's people. There is little resemblance to the way things used to be. Hunting and fishing are still quite common, but this is only a portion of the modern Inupiaq diet. The younger the person the more this is true. Tuuqsaaq (took-sack) food takes most of the refrigerator, table, and cupboard.

If Maniilaq were alive now he would have much to say about diet. He would not insist on vegetarianism, though he might have to advocate caution, especially with fish that travel in polluted waters. He would grow a garden, sharing freely. His table would make use of a wide variety fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He would share the best recipes with friends at every opportunity.

I believe that healthier attitudes are slowly coming through. I am seeing a small variety of whole grain and lowfat items in the stores. But the biggest challenge is the children, any change will only be temporary at best unless the whole family accepts. I am considering how best to help them enjoy more natural food.

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