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Alaska Natives Recipes


Alaska's indigenous people are divided into eleven distinct cultures with 20 different languages.  They include: Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.  Depending on where they lived and the season of the year determined the diet available to them.   The hunter/gatherer societies were based largely on an active subsistence hunting and traditional use of foods such as, berries, salmon, moose, whale, walrus, seal, duck, and other marine mammals to provide substantial portions of their diet. Birds and eggs formed an important part of the diet.

'Subsistence' is the word used to describe a traditional way of life among many Alaskan Native cultures. This lifestyle in Alaska dates back more than 8,000 years. It refers to the practice of relying on the surrounding environment as a source of food and materials for daily living. Hunting and fishing yielded the animal flesh, skin, and bone that have been year-round mainstays in the Alaskan diet and tribal life. Bird eggs, berries and roots supplemented their diet. This is a deeply-rooted tradition -- today's subsistence practices would be familiar to the coastal people visited by the 1899 Edward Harriman expedition.

While those groups in the interior and along the southeast coast had food aplenty, for centuries food in the North Slope has been the symbol of life and struggle.  Living in a harsh environment required the ability to survive the many risks due to conditions such as unpredictable weather and marginal food availability. To avoid starvation those indigenous ancestors had to employ a variety of survival strategies, including appropriate storage of foodstuffs they fell back on during the time of need. Their food gathering and storage had to be efficient as well as effective.  Coastal villages traded with the inland villages for items not locally available.  Seal oil was highly desired by inland villages who usually bartered moose/caribou meat and furs for seal oil and other coastal delicacies such as herring and herring eggs.

Again, traditional subsistence patterns depended upon geographical location and season of the resources, such as caribou, marmot, seal, walrus, several variety of whale, many kinds of fish, bear, rabbit, ptarmigan, and a variety of plants, roots, eggs, seeds and berries. Whales and sea mammals were hunted by the coastal and island villagers. Pink and chum salmon; cod, and whitefish were fished whenever ice formed; herring and crab and halibut were also caught. Polar bear steaks, walrus tongue, seal liver, and whale hamburger are just a few of the dishes that have graced the larders of the Alaskan Inuit.

In any of the Alaskan Native cultures, hunting and fishing were planned based on the knowledge of where animals and fish had been found in the past and knowledge about weather conditions and the changing patterns of climate.


The recipes below are traditional Alaskan Native.  If you have old, traditional recipes and would like to see them listed here, please contact me.


Ah-pick (salmonberries)   Muktuk (whale skin & blubber)
Akutaq (Eskimo ice cream)   Oogruk Flippers (seal flippers)
Assaleeak (Eskimo fry bread)   Seal Head
Bannock   Seal Poke
Eel Akutaq (eel ice cream)   Salmon Heads & Tails