Traditional Food & Recipes

By Nancy Yeaton

Enduring Understanding:

Local and Regional food plays a vital role in the Chugach Peoples survival, culture and passing down of traditional recipes. Food harvesting, preservation, preparation and cooking are a valued tradition promoting the health and safety of the people.

Essential Questions:

1. What are the best harvest times?
2. Proper care and safety for preservation.
3. How to prepare and cook food to eat?

Elder Quote:

“We grew up eating all these different animals, sea mammals, and birds. When a bunch of people are out gathering food, they take the time to talk, developing a sense of closeness. But when you’re shopping in the store, you’re running here and there with your grocery cart. You pay for your food and then you go home right away. Subsistence bonds people, whether they are picking berries, digging cockles or razor clams, hunting seal or bear or deer, or putting away salmon for the winter. It brings people together. People tell stories and catch up on one another’s lives. There’s a lot of laughter when you’re out subsisting.” Karen Katelnikoff i

Traditional Food & Recipes Overview

The Chugach Region communities continue to participate and thrive on their seasonal gathering of traditional foods. These foods keep us connected to our ancestors, culture, environment, family and well-being. Gathering, preparing, preserving and cooking traditional foods help to create memories like the person who cooked the food, stories told, people present at the time, and how it tasted.These memories are the connections between the Elders and younger generation and then can be passed down to their descendants and so forth.

Preservation of food was important to survival. It was during this same time many of the communities used underground storage for food items. During the winter, when unable to hunt or gather, the preserved food helped sustain our people until spring. Some preservation methods used for most of the food items was drying and fermentation. Another preservation method for food items such as; berries, fish eggs, greens was to place them in a dried seal stomach and cover with seal oil. During the winter, the contents of the seal stomach would be whipped by hand to enjoy with dried meats. It was not until the Russians came with wooden barrels, that our ancestors would store food such as salting meats.

The nomadic days to hunt and gather foods like our ancestors is not necessary as food is more readily available year round. Yet, there is a strong pull deeply rooted within us to gather and hunt for our traditional foods. Traditional foods not only provide nourishment but also fullfill our spiritual needs, because it make us feel alive and connected to culture.

In the Traditional Foods and Recipe heritage kit, students will have the opportunity to gather traditional recipes from family members and the community. As students gather recipes from family or community members they shall hear stories about who made it the best, names associated with recipes and those delicious dishes. They will discover many of the recipes have been in the family system for a very long time. As in many of the traditional dishes, recipes have been modified by adding store bought food items. We now use many products to enhance the flavor of our traditional foods.

Elders and recognized experts should be invited to share their knowledge, history, Sugt’stun, Prince William or Eyak dialect of vocabulary.

i (2007) In We are the land, we are the sea: stories of subsistence from the people of Chenega (pp. 40). Anchorage, AK: Chenega Heritage, INC.

Lessons & Curriculum

GRADE 9-12
PRE K-12

Seasonal Gathering - Lesson 1-2
Name That Dish - Lesson 3-4
What is on the Rocks - Lesson 5-6
Let's be Safe - Lesson 7-8
How do I Save This to Eat Later - Lesson 9-10
PRE K-2 - All Lessons - 1-10


Let's Make a Recipe Book - Lesson 1-3
What Did They Gather - Lesson 4-7
How Did They Keep Their Food - Lesson 8-9
Let Us Do an Investigation - Lesson 10-11
What Have We Done - Lesson 12
GRADE 3-5 - All Lessons - 1-12


What is a Traditional Dish - Lesson 1-2
Let's be Detectives - Lesson 3-4
What Kind of Salmon do You Eat - Lesson 5-6
Waterfowl - Lesson 7-8
What Have I Learned - Lesson 9-10
GRADE 6-8 - All Lessons - 1-10

GRADE 9-12

Beach Zonation - Lesson 1-3
Splitting Fish - Lesson 4-6
Waterfowl - Lesson 7-8
Land Mammals - Lesson 9-12
What Have We Learned - Lesson 13
GRADE 9-12 - All Lessons - 1-13

Video Library

Bidarkis; Subsistence Intertidal Food Harvesting in Alaska

Nancy Yeaton, seal lungs

ANHC Alaska students learn how to butcher a seal

Alutiiq Pride: A Story of Subsistence

Diane Selanoff, Valdez - Fish Filleting & Strips

Diane Selanoff, Valdez, Demonstrating Splitting Fish and Brine (Clip 2)

Diane Selanoff, Valdez, Demonstrating Fish Filet and Strips (clip 3)

Store Outside Your Door: Indigenous food and health for Alaska Native people

Sushi in Nanwalek

Fish Pie in Nanwalek

Braiding Seal Intestine

Other Resources

Bibliography & Resources for Traditional Foods & Recipes

Community Field Trips

Port Graham

Quick Links

About Us
Heritage Kit Curriculum
Contact Us


1840 Bragaw Street, Suite 110
Anchorage, Alaska 99508-3463


ANA Grant Number S356A150066

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