Many aspects of the traditional diet of Alaska Natives are practical. Take, for example, akutaq. A Yup’ik word for “to stir,” akutaq was called “Eskimo ice cream” by later arrivals. The concoction generally consists of animal fat (from caribou, bear, or muskox), animal oil (from a seal or whale), and some kind of flavoring, all whipped up into a frothy treat—and a vital form of nutrition.
Akutaq was a necessity that kept Alaskan hunters going while they were out on long hunting trips. High in fat and protein—and perfectly preserved in cold temperatures—akutaq was the ultimate excursion food.
Muktuk, sliced strips of whale skin and blubber, offers a similarly high-fat, high-protein food that offers nourishing sustenance.
Today, these foods are still prepared and consumed by Alaska Natives. If you’re lucky enough to be offered a taste, don’t hesitate to give them a try!
Next, we’ll take a look at a tradition in Alaska that Alaska Natives and Alaska residents share with the rest of the world.