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Arctic Blast 2001

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Food is an extremely important part of the Inuit culture.
All celebrations include a huge feast and the natives believe food tastes better when shared with family, friends, relatives and many other people. Sharing is an important part of the Inuit culture.

Eskimo Icecream

If you are ever lucky enough to visit a native family, chances are you will be met with few words and LOTS of food – soft beluga blubber, corn dogs and maybe for dessert some delicate Eskimo Ice-cream (see recipe below).

In Inuvik two lbs.
of butter cost $12
(remember there are
no cows up there)..
Compare how much it
is in your store
at home?


The Life of the Inuit use to be centered around hunting and gathering. They were nomads following the source of food. In the Nunavut handbook, Joe Otokiak writes:

" In earlier times during the winter months, Inuit traveled to areas where caribou were plentiful, and to coastal areas for seal. In the spring, Inuit headed for the rivers along the coast where they’d fish for arctic char and hunt migrating birds. Fish were caught by jigging through the ice along the edge of lakes and coastal waters; as ice melted, natural holes were used. Seals could be caught as they gathered to feed on the fish coming down the river…When spring harvesting was done, Inuit would travel inland to caribou crossing and hunt them by kayak and bow and arrow. The places were carefully chosen and surveyed to ensure a good hunt. When fall approached, Inuit returned to the coast to do more fishing and caribou hunting. Early winter was spent mostly seal hunting. Seal blubber was used to provide heat and cooking fuel for qulliq. There were also caches of seal blubber in skin sacks which could be used in time of hardship. All the members in the Inuit families with the exception of babies, had a part in carrying out responsibilities when we hunt. "

As you can read, hunting not only supported the traditional native diet but was also providing them with dog food, clothing, and materials for making boats, tents, and harpoons - even fuel for their lamps!

 

trapper.gif (28539 bytes)

 

Seal Skin and Ammunition.

Humans are hunters. Before the farms, fields and domesticated animals, such as cows and chickens, man gathered berries and hunted meat to survive. Today most of us buy our food in a supermarket.

The Inuit people do the same though they still hunt and live off the land much more than we do. Their lives have always been dependent on hunting and fishing. Actually, not only for food, but also as materials for their clothing, tools, fuel and material for shelters, such as whalebone. Remember the only wood they have above the treeline is the occasional drift wood!

 

As such, hunting remained a central way of living in the north much longer than in the western world. When the white man entered the Inuit world in the 1800s you might have thought their influence would have changed this, but instead a new role for hunting was created, with the white man looking to buy fur from the natives. That was the beginning of the fur industry. Most often the natives would be paid in goods from the western world, such as coffee, gasoline or ammunition. Sometimes they were paid in money, which they could only use for western goods anyway. The natives would never need money amongst themselves as it is their culture to share everything. Up until the 1970s the fur industry was one of the main pillars in the economy of the native people throughout the north. Then the western world turned its back on trapping and fur trading in general. Huge campaigns paid by very large organizations such as Greenpeace used millions of dollars to convince people of the brutal nature of the Inuits and their wrongdoings. Fur sales plummeted and a culture with its ancient traditions and values was dying. Greenpeace has since publicly apologized to the native people, but it is still not possible for an Inuit to make a living as a trapper, only selling furs.

 

RECIPES

Here is a couple of great tasting recipes for dips … which we are sure would bring attention at any party!

cook.gif (5138 bytes)

 

Eskimo Icecream
in Inuktitut called Nirukkaq:

Nirukkaq is the contents of caribou stomach. When you butcher the caribou, carefully remove the stomach contents and put them in a container. Freeze until ready to be used. Thaw it out and clean the contents very carefully with kneading motions. Pieces of grass, leaves, lichen and lumps are removed. When smooth it is ready to be enjoyed!

Aalu:

Take your choice of caribou or seal meat. Make sure the meat is very lean and clean.
- cut it up in thin pieces and put it in a bowl
- add a few drops of melted fat,
- add a few drops of blood,
- add uruniq (ptarmigan intestine) to    taste
- stir everything very friskly with your fingers until the volume doubles and the mixture turns fluffy.

This is a great dip for all kinds of meat.

 

Misiraq:

Take a piece of blubber from either seal, whale or ujjuk (square flipper seal) making sure not to include any meat.
- Put the blubber in a safe container with perforated top – for example, an old coffee tin container.
- Store it in a cool place where it can be aged slowly away from heat.
- When aged right the liquid ends up clear like fine white wine. The aroma is delicious and never bitter. (If it smells bad, throw it away!)
This is also a good dip for all kinds of meat!

Good luck!

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