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The Best Caribou Soup Ever

March 21, 2019

Alaska Natives have lived on our traditional lands surviving by what these lands, our air, and the waters provided.  Our people not only relied on the animals, but we also cooperated to ensure everyone in the community had what was needed.  


Over the generations, we have learned to adapt to a changing world. First by following the migration of our herds, the movement of the sea mammals and our fish and the vegetation that kept us healthily.  Today we are faced with obstacles such as public policy, federal regulations, and multi-governing bodies, agencies, and departments protecting animals, our lands and making decisions what they may perceive to be best for us as Alaska Natives.


There are many Federal, State, and local boards, commissions, and committees who have spent many years seeking a correct answer to what Subsistence means.  Although this work has not gone unnoticed, it still has not found a solution to food securities and that all Alaskans agree what subsistence is to us.



Four handfuls (if your Mom didn't send enough caribou less is okay)

Cut your caribou into 1-inch pieces and with coat beef stew packet in a medium bowl, heat your pot and add olive oil.  When hot sear caribou pieces until fully brown to lock in all the juices.  Once the caribou looks like it is done add a couple courts of water or fill ¾ of the way up.  Make sure you have caribou fat for flavor. (Boil for an hour)


Carrots, Celery & Onions

Two handfuls each, however, you may use half a large onion or one small onion.  You should cut them about a ¼ inch thick and be consistent, so it can cook evenly.  (Add to your pot about 15 minutes into boiling) Once it comes to boil reduce heat to a rolling boil, that's about medium heat.


Stewed Tomatoes

One can Del Monte, or Hunts is best, however if you are still in college or shopping at AC then you can purchase those cheap generic type (not much flavor but will still do the trick).  Flavored such as Italian is great (more spices)



½ small head shredded.  No, you don't pull out the cheese shredder; you cut your cabbage in half and slice very thinly and cook until translucent (there's that darn word again).


This recipe is a laid back recipe and after about an hour and a half you will have some of the best caribou soup you ever tasted.  Always smile and dance a little while cooking, if you cuss, or you are in a bad mood, this won't turn out at all.  Happy Cooks make happy, delicious food.



You can use various kinds of meat, it is fine if you use Moose (which I don't like because it's tough and taste too gamey for my taste buds.)  If you don't have access to game meat, you can use beef too.  This recipe also good with corned beef as well; no, not from a can, you buy it at Fred Meyers or Costco and boil it whole for about four hours then cut into bite size pieces and follow the instructions above.  If you have Caribou Heart and Tongue, it's even more amazing.  Use 1 heart and two tongues!  If you are in the city, Beef tongue is good too, but that’s if you are very homesick and have no other caribou tongue to cook.


If you prefer your soup to comfort soup, and hearty rather than healthy omit the cabbage and substitute the cabbage with a hand full of rice and potatoes (cut into pieces of course), two handfuls of macaroni and a handful of spaghetti broken in quarters in the last 20 minutes


Traditional Eskimo way

If you are out in the country caribou hunting in the fall, boil your caribou with river water, add onions and cook for about an hour then add rice.  That's all we had a long time ago, and you can find a lot of people in our villages cooking it like that.  Don't use as much water so it can be tastier.  You don't have many fresh veggies in the villages, so this is your typical soup you eat more than you'd like throughout the year.  If you have bones or ribs use that too, it gives it a lot of flavor and the patiq (marrow) is great!


My favorite time to go hunting used to be Labor Day weekend on the Kobuk River.  However, with warmer days and transporter hunters (which are unregulated by the way) we now head up river three weeks following Labor Day.  It's very expensive to buy gas to travel from Kotzebue to Onion Portage on the Upper Kobuk area.  We can hunt as late as the sound and rivers freeze.


In the Fall of 2011 when I moved back home to the Region after being gone for six years I had to hitch hike to go hunting… literally!  My friends Guy, Allen, Daniel, and Juanita, brought Adrian and me to Noorvik in a boat.  I waited at my Aunt Nunga's for her to get off work than she, my Uncle Verne and I left for the Upper Kobuk.  We spent the entire weekend hunting and drank boxed wine!  You should see my new wine glasses that my friend Bea made for me; she glued stems to mason jars so now I won't spill a drop!  Once our hunting weekend was over, we traveled down the river to Martha Wells' camp (she's one of my many Aana's) and visited Tommy and his family.  A couple of boats from Noorvik and Kotzebue came by to see how our hunting went and how many we caught.  They were short on gas, so I offered them some if they can take me home.  We transferred my caribou into Martha and Gary's boat, and they drove me to Noorvik, once there we transferred them to Pakik and Kim's boat, and they brought Adrian and I back to Kotzebue!  That was the best hunting trip ever!  Well, almost!  I took my daughter Jacqui and son Ned hunting when they were young, and Jacqui in all her brilliance asked if we could just shoot the fox running on the river bank so we can just go home after being out all day having no luck at getting a caribou!  


Once you have made the caribou soup several times you won't have to look at this recipe again, it will soon come naturally to you.  If you don't like this recipe, just rip out this recipe from the book and throw it away or use a red pen and write… she lied, it's not the best!


Remember all recipes are guiding you only; you can omit and change anything.  You can use your spices rather than the beef stew packet!  If you don't have all ingredients in your refrigerator use what you have, I added zucchini, and it was great.


Happy Cooking and always remember Happy cooks make happy food, happy food makes happy families and like my Papa told me in the 2nd grade "COOKS DON'T WASH DISHES!"




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