Alaska life

Smoking Moose Meat in Interior Alaska

Many Alaskans go hunting for moose and caribou in September, and they rely on it to get through the winter. We try to use and preserve as much of the meat as we can, so nothing goes to waste. Many people make steaks, soup bones, stew meat, ground meat, sausage, jarred meat, and much more. Many Alaska Natives like to make moose jerky, also known as dried moose/caribou meat or dry meat. Everyone preserves and prepares their meat and fish differently.

Josephine Derendoff of Huslia shared some photos of her process of making dry meat.

A moose quarter hangs in the smokehouse for a day or so, then people put it away in a variety of different ways. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
A moose quarter hangs in the smokehouse for a day or so, then people put it away in a variety of different ways. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia

 

You start with a chunk of meat, then start cutting them into smaller pieces. Photos by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
You start with a chunk of meat, then start cutting them into smaller pieces. Photos by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia

 

 

Many people make their own hooks for drying moose meat strips. Twist it into this shape, then spear the meat onto each tip. The next step is to hang it up in the smokehouse. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
Many people make their own hooks for drying moose meat strips. Twist it into this shape, then spear the meat onto each tip. The next step is to hang it up in the smokehouse. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
Many interior Alaskans use garlic or seasoning salt to add flavor their dried moose meat (aka dry meat). Photos by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
Many interior Alaskans use garlic or seasoning salt to add flavor their dried moose meat (aka dry meat). Photos by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
People in the interior Alaska hang moose meat in their smokehouses on polls, and smoke them for two to three days. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
People in the interior Alaska hang moose meat in their smokehouses on polls, and smoke them for two to three days. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
Old cottonwood is used to smoke dried moose meat in the interior. Many residents make homemade stoves to cook and smoke meat and fish in their smokehouses and camps. Photos by Josephine Derendoff in Huslia
Old cottonwood is used to smoke dried moose meat in the interior. Many residents make homemade stoves to cook and smoke meat and fish in their smokehouses and camps. Photos by Josephine Derendoff in Huslia
After smoking and drying for a two to three days, the dried moose meat (aka dry meat) should be ready to take down and put away or eat. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
After smoking and drying for a two to three days, the dried moose meat (aka dry meat) should be ready to take down and put away or eat. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia

 

The fat is smoked along with the dried moose meat. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
The fat is smoked along with the dried moose meat. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia

 

After a few days of smoking and drying, the dried moose meat (aka dry meat) is ready to eat with some Pilot Bread crackers and hot tea. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia
After a few days of smoking and drying, the dried moose meat (aka dry meat) is ready to eat with some Pilot Bread crackers and hot tea. Photo by Josephine Derendoff of Huslia

Ana basee’ to my cousin, Josephine, for sharing her dry meat making process. It is a lot of work, but the results are pretty tasty!

My husband, Sarbelio, cuts up dry meat in Huslia. We cut is up, then bag it for the freezer. We eat some along the way. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
My husband, Sarbelio, cuts up dry meat in Huslia. We cut is up, then bag it for the freezer. We eat some along the way. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Speaking of a lot of work, it is helpful to work as a team and help each other when putting away moose meat. I went to Huslia in September and we lucked out and got to work on moose meat. I created a time lapse video using the new Hyperlapse app. It is basically eight minutes squeezed into two minutes. We had fun watching and laughing at the video! The guys (Sarbelio, Ross and Al Jr.) were mainly cutting the meat up and my sister, Tanya and I, were bagging the meat.

Many Alaska Native people still subsist off the land through hunting, fishing and gathering. It can be expensive to buy fuel for ATVs or boats to go out hunting, but it is very much worth it. Transportation is not cheap, and many rural Alaskan communities can only be reached by plane. This brings the prices of food up exponentially. That is why having moose, caribou, fish and berries is to important to have in your freezer. Plus, the way we prepare foods is delicious.

Many people hunt and fish along the Koyukuk River. Here is a photo of Solomon Yatlin, Janessa Gonzalez, Sarbelio Gonzalez, Ross Sam and Al Yatlin, Jr. in September, 2014. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Many people hunt and fish along the Koyukuk River. Here is a photo of Solomon Yatlin, Janessa Gonzalez, Sarbelio Gonzalez, Ross Sam and Al Yatlin, Jr. in September, 2014. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Alaska life

Dipnetting on the Kenai Peninsula

We got some nice sized red (sockeye) salmon on the Kenai River. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
We got some nice sized red (sockeye) salmon on the Kenai River. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

When I was a kid, we went to fish camp each summer up and down the Koyukuk River. I’ve written about it a couple times on the Athabascan Woman blog.

I also shared my story about cutting fish on the Salmon Project website. You can also submit and share your story about salmon on the Salmon Project website.

Each summer, my family goes dipnetting for salmon on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. My daughter, Janessa, and I created a short video of our experience.

If you are planning to go dipnetting for the first time, here is a supply list that might help you get started. I’m sure there is a lot more information about it online. Be sure to research the rules and regulations on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Dipnetting Supplies

  • Dipnet
  • Scissors to cut fins
  • Knife to fillet fish
  • Fish club
  • Cutting board, table or surface to gut fish
  • Chest Waders
  • Hat and gloves (waterproof)
  • Rain jacket if needed
  • Extra set of clothes
  • Food and beverages
  • Bucket to wash fish
  • Cooler
  • Fishing license and harvest ticket
  • Other camping supplies to be comfortable
  • Extra person to assist

I am sure I’m missing something from this list. Feel free to comment below with any other supplies you would bring. What tips do you have for newbies?

Here is a photo of my husband and daughter from our trip to the mouth of the Kenai River in July. It takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive down to the Kenai River from Anchorage.

Sarbelio and his daughter, Janessa, at the mouth of the Kenai River. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Sarbelio and his daughter, Janessa, at the mouth of the Kenai River. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

My husband, Sarbelio, cuts the salmon. We all work as a team to cut up and put the salmon in our freezer. We eat it over the winter.

Sarbelio fillets some red (sockeye) salmon in Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Sarbelio fillets some red (sockeye) salmon in Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Salmon supplement our food supply over the winter. It tastes great, and there are a lot of ways to preserve, prepare and cook salmon. I feel grateful that I can still harvest salmon like my ancestors did, even though it is in a different way.

 

Alaska life

Rural Alaska Life Hacks

Sewing mosquito net material on a cap is a great way to keep the bugs out of your face and neck. Here is one I made a few years ago.
Sewing mosquito net material on a cap is a great way to keep the bugs out of your face and neck. Here is one I made a few years ago.

I’ve been intrigued by life hacks in Alaska, especially from the bush. As Alaskans, we have tons of life hacks. One big one is the use of duct tape to fix just about anything. Heck, we even have a Duct Tape Ball. Alaskans have a unique way of doing things and surviving. Some life hacks are done out of pure necessity. When you are out in the wilderness or rural Alaska, you have to make modifications to just about everything when you do repairs. There is usually no store that you can go to to buy parts in the village.

Here is a survival technique from my Great Uncle Bill Williams of Hughes. I guess it could be what some people would call an ‘old Indian trick’. It is really about survival when you are out in the wilderness with limited water.

I want to ask Alaskans and people in general about the subject. What are your favorite life hacks? How has it saved you? What are the simplest ones that make the most difference? Does it have to do with cooking or a food gathering/preservation technique? Does it save you time? How does it make your life easier?

Comment below with your favorite or most useful life hack. Upload your photo on Facebook, Twitter or other social media with the hashtag:  #alaskalifehack. Describe your ideas and story behind the life hack. I’ll share it here.

 

Entertainment

Athabascan Supremes Perform in Fairbanks

Athabascan Supremes: Sonia Vent, Amy Modig and Angela Gonzalez. Photos by Joie Brown
Athabascan Supremes: Sonia Vent, Amy Modig and Angela Gonzalez. Photos by Joie Brown
Athabascan Supremes: Amy Modig, Sonia Vent and Angela Gonzalez. Photo by Joie Brown
Athabascan Supremes: Amy Modig, Sonia Vent and Angela Gonzalez. Photo by Joie Brown

The Athabascan Supremes performed “Touch A Hand” at the Rural Providers’ Conference Fashion and Talent Show at the Tribal Hall in Fairbanks in June. Amy Modig, Sonia Vent and I got together in May an started talking about our performance in the talent show. We were all impressed by the talent show in 2013, and were asked to participate at that time. We didn’t feel like we were ready, so we said, “maybe next year.” Well that time came, and we went all out.

We chose to lip-sync to the Staples Singer’s Touch A Hand song (original here). Sonia picked out the dresses and shawl. Then, we all accessorized from our Native bling collections. We even wore fake eyelashes, lipstick and glitter! Check out the performance below.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’m not the type of person to get all gussied up and to wear a dress. I had a lot of fun planning with the ladies. We laughed so much and worried about all of the little details. The attention to detail was what made us look so coordinated. I think we all participated to have fun and to make people (especially youth) smile and laugh. We accomplished that mission.

The Rural Providers’ Conference is a wellness and sobriety conference, and they usually have a talent show each year to show that people can have fun and be sober at the same time. There were many other performances that evening, like Elvis, Supaman and a round dance song by Frank Yaska. The Fashion Show took place before the Talent Show and featured contemporary fashions and Alaska Native traditional regalia.

Sometimes getting out of your comfort zone can be so much fun. My ten year old daughter was inspired by us and sang a song in talent show too. Thank you to Sonia and Amy for asking me to be a part of the Athabascan Supremes! I would also like to thank the volunteers, Carol Rose and Shirley Holmberg, for organizing the shows.

Athabascan Supremes on stage at the Rural Providers' Conference Talent Show in Fairbanks. Photo by Joie Brown
Athabascan Supremes on stage at the Rural Providers’ Conference Talent Show in Fairbanks. Photo by Joie Brown
Alaska life

Remembering the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake

As we come upon the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, we’ve been seeing news stories focused on it and hearing the incredible stories from people who lived through it. Two Athabascan men shared their memories on Facebook and have graciously allowed me to share it here. Claude Demientieff was in Nulato and in his teens of the time of the quake. Will Yaska was seven years old in an Anchorage hospital. Will is a my first cousin, once removed. They share their memories in their own words.

Claude Demientieff and his dog Missy. Photo by Ronn Murray
Claude Demientieff and his dog Missy. Photo by Ronn Murray

Claude Demientieff’s Memory
March 27th, 1964, Anchorage shook like it never shook before. It’s been 50 years. Still, I remember our house in Nulato shook. Not much, just enough to recognize it’s a quake. Having just sat down to dinner it was a surprise to us. Dad’s brother’s uncles, Rudy and Fred, were in town for the Easter holiday. It shook, we look at each other around the table. What? Uncle Fred say. He had not felt it having stood at just that moment to reach across the table for mashed potatoes. “Earthquake”, someone say. A rare event for us in Nulato. After dinner, APRN radio news from Galena went on.

‘Anchorage destroyed!’ were the first reports. This caused mom to drop to her knees and start praying. She was worried sick since her two sisters, Mary and Margaret, were in Anchorage at the time. Fr. Endall, having dinner with us, excused himself and went back to the little mission quarters for priests and nuns next to the church.

It wasn’t long before the church bell started tolling, calling the village to rosary, as we had just had Good Friday high mass. Stations of the Cross had been announced earlier and most if not all of us were prepared for confession, rosary and a quiet Good Friday evening.

After church, no new news on the radio other than ham radio contact with someone in Anchorage. Much to mom’s relief it [Anchorage] was still there, but without phones. Those days, we were unable to contact anyone. Couldn’t anyway, since Anchorage was cut off. Mom was worried the entire evening, so she and dad started making plans to go to galena to use the phone, then go to anchorage if necessary.

Uncles said they’ll stay and watch the house and store dad owned. Worried for my aunties in Anchorage, I thought it inappropriate to celebrate my uncles staying with me. Only us. Learning from one uncle was wonderful, but to have both of them was an unbelievable stroke of luck. They were so much fun as a boy, awesome hunting teachers to learn how to be a man. I was overjoyed.

We’d spend the whole time on my short snare line, or so I imagined. Mom and dad went to Galena, and it took several days to track down the aunties. Made contact and did not go to Anchorage since all was okay even though the city was a mess. They came home and the next barge season found all kinds of new slides and eddies on the Yukon. Eagle slide was one of them. Had not been there the year before, now a big slide and huge eddy.

Will Yaska. Courtesy photo
Will Yaska. Courtesy photo

Will Yaska’s Memory
I was in the hospital at that time. Every morning one of the hospital staff woke up us kids for meals or meds. I was sound asleep in my bed which had wheels. It began to wheel around the floor. It was weird of the staff to wake me up like that.

I looked all over for the one who was rocking my bed, nobody under there. It occurred to me that maybe the person was under the bed, so I reached as far as I could to look under. But I went too far and toppled over. And I was amazed that there wasn’t anybody under the bed. Since my legs atrophied I couldn’t walk and the bed on wheels kept running into me. I had to grab the bed to lessen it from slamming into me.

When I got my bearing I saw the ceiling crack open. The shaking finally stopped and all the doctors fled, leaving only the nurses and patients to fend for themselves. The nurses decided to evacuate everybody. I went with some other kids to the elevator. Down we went, then aftershocks hit and the elevator jammed between floors. We must have been there for about an hour. That’s where the rules say don’t use elevator during disaster came from. The door was finally forced open by the only male brave enough to stay around – the janitor.

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Thank you to Claude and Will sharing their memories of the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake. I’ve enjoyed hearing people’s stories in the news this month. Earthquakes and tsunamis happen, and the 50th anniversary is a good reminder to be prepared for natural disasters. There are a lot of resources, such as www.ready.gov or Alaska Homeland Security & Emergency Management: http://www.ak-prepared.com/.