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Learning To Like Muktuk

Penelope Easton's memoir on working with native communities in territorial Alaska

Penelope Easton
Credit OSU Press
Penelope Easton

Penelope Easton ventured to the Alaskan territory as a young woman in 1948. It would have been an intimidating move for many young women in that era. But for Easton, the move was just another in a series of adventures across the globe.

After her military service, spent mostly in India, she was recruited as a nutritionist to assist with developing dietary plans for native populations. She worked in hospitals and children's homes.

Easton quickly recognized the cultural barriers to providing assistance in the territory. Explorers did not always acknowledge the wisdom of the native populations. "The polar bear liver has enough vitamin be poisonous," she said. But the explorers would eat it anyway.

Host Frank Stasio talks with 91-year-old Easton about the journey and her recent return to Alaska. She will speak at McIntyres Books in Pittsboro on February 15th at 2 p.m. She will teach a class on Alaskan foods at Southern Season Cooking School in Chapel Hill on April 10th at noon. 

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