SITKA, Alaska, April 26, 2023 — The Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA), Pacific High School, and Tongass National Forest joined forces last week for the sixth consecutive year to plant Tlingít (also called Maria’s) potatoes. Several STA staff and elders led the 10 school volunteers and 11 Forest Service staff in the planting process, then shared the potato’s history and some stories.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the perfect opportunity to learn the biology, history, and cultural aspects of these interesting root vegetables,” said Eric Garner, Sitka District Ranger.
Tlingít potatoes have been present in Tlingít gardens for more than 200 years. The potatoes originate from Peru, Mexico or Chile, and were a trade item in Southeast Alaska in the early 1800s.
“When you handle these potatoes, you are touching a part of history,” said Tammy Young, a cultural resources coordinator with the STA.
The group plans to harvest the potatoes in October. Since 2017, the Sitka Ranger District has provided a sunny plot of land to serve as the shared potato garden and provided the seed potatoes to plant the garden. Last year, over 700 pounds of Tlingít potatoes were harvested between this garden and the STA plot to feed tribal families. The Tlingít potato continues to be a sustainable food resource, generations later.
For more information on the Tlingít potatoes, contact Tammy Young at 907-738-7689 or email@example.com. Those interested in learning more about these interesting potatoes can view the Forest Service video, Tlingít Potato Garden: Culture, Horticulture, Stories, History at https://vimeo.com/416075040.
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