In the dense rainforest of the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Somass River (c̓uumaʕas) brings sockeye salmon (miʕaat) into the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Tseshaht. C̓uumaʕas and miʕaat are central to the sacred food practices that have been a crucial part of the Indigenous community’s efforts to enact food sovereignty, decolonize their diet, and preserve their ancestral knowledge.
In A Drum in One Hand, a Sockeye in the Other, Charlotte Coté shares contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth practices of traditional food revitalization in the context of broader efforts to re-Indigenize contemporary diets on the Northwest Coast. Coté offers evocative stories of her Tseshaht community’s and her own work to revitalize relationships to haʔum (traditional food) as a way to nurture health and wellness. As Indigenous peoples continue to face food insecurity due to ongoing inequality, environmental degradation, and the Westernization of traditional diets, Coté foregrounds healing and cultural sustenance via everyday enactments of food sovereignty: berry picking, salmon fishing, and building a community garden on reclaimed residential school grounds. This book is for everyone concerned about the major role food plays in physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.