Salmon filleting champion displays skills at Annual Gathering

Marjorie Tahbone gives a salmon filleting demonstration at the Southcentral Foundation's 20th Annual Gathering on Saturday at the Egan Center.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Marjorie Tahbone can fillet a salmon with an ulu in 29.9 seconds. On Saturday, she showed off her skills to attendees of the Southcentral Foundation's 20th Annual Gathering.

Tahbone is from Nome, and has won the fish cutting competition at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics for the past four years. She and her family live a subsistence lifestyle, and she learned how to skin, hang and dry fish from her mother. She said she started competing because it seemed like a good way to hone her skills, and share her culture.

"I'm always surprised to find that a lot of peopel don't know the basics of salmon and how to fillet them properly," Tahbone said. "So it's one of the things I value, and it's one of the things that I'm always happy to share, and share that knowledge and show a little bit of cultural pride when I do it."

During her demonstration today, Tahbone deftly wielded her ulu, first removing the head, then slitting the fish's belly and taking out the guts. Then, she cuts along the fillets so they'll dry as they hang on a pole.

The gathering Saturday also featured dancing, activities, and information about health and wellness resources for the community. Ileen Sylvester with the Southcentral Foundation says about 3,000 people came to the event.

"It's about sharing tradition, sharing culture, family, wellness, fun," Sylvester said.

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