Alaska Natives Recipes
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,