Yup’ik Cuisine

We hunt seal by boat in the spring, summer, and fall.  While the (Yukon) river is frozen, from the end of winter into the first part of spring, the men will throw a boat on a sled and go to the ocean ice edge and hunt seal. We hunt ring, spotted, and bearded seals.

We eat seal dried, boiled, fried, baked, and in soup.  We also render seal oil from the fat and use it on just about anything.   In the past it was used for seal oil lamps and cooking.   It has a very intense smell.

Yesterday one of the elders asked how my toddler was doing.  I replied that she had an earache.  The elder told me that I should pour a little bit of seal oil in her ear.

4 Responses to “Seal”

  1. CorningNY Says:

    Hi Ann,
    Putting oil in the ear must be an old folk recipe. My mother, who was born and raised in Italy, always told me to put a few drops of olive oil in the ear to cure an earache. I guess it’s whatever oil is handy where you live! But olive oil would be a lot less stinky than seal oil, I imagine.

    Love your posts about native life.

  2. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    I have heard this too! I worked in a health food store and we had oil infused with garlic, you could put a few drops on a cotton ball, and stuff in the ear! When my son was young I did do the olive oil treatment and it worked?

  3. InterestedPerson Says:

    my mother, born in 1902, said that her father cured her earaches with
    his pipe or cigar smoke blown into it. Maybe not so stinky?

    And another family favorite, living without quick access to a dentist,
    as scotch or bourbon whiskey on a piece of gauze or cotton, placed
    right into the cavity. Works.
    My recollection was that the pain was numbed, not that I passed out.

  4. Peaceful Granny Says:

    Any kind of oil that does not have salt in it is good for ears. Mind you not much is needed and more is not better in this respect. I find the very best, with the best smell is cocanut oil. But even baby oil, or mineral oil will work, to soften the wax or mucus that may have harded in the ear. If you don’t have cotton balls or QTips, a small piece of flannel or soft cotton material can be used. I’ve even used pieces of old sheets or anything that doesn’t have too much lint. Warming the oil first is a must. Also cutting back on any milk products while child has ear issues is a must. Give more juice and water, less or no milk (other than mother’s beast milk and even cut back on that) until the condition improves.

    In ID we went from over 200 children a year going deaf from ear infections to only a handful in the 60’s – 70’s by educating mother’s about cutting back on “cows” milk when a child has a cold that quickly goes into an ear infection. Mucus backs up in sinus and then goes into the ear, hardens in cold weather and breaks the ear drum. Warm hot water bottle or small pillow made of almost anything that can be layed on back of stove (not to hot however just warm) or now down here we would us the microwave, will stop the fusy baby, and also warm the mucus…bringing relief. But milk will continue to make more mucus and around it goes. Do not put a baby with an ear infection to sleep with a milk filled bottle, in a cold or drafty space.

    If a child with an ear infection has to go outside in the cold put tiny amount of warm oil on warmed cloth in ear under a very warm stocking cap then other head covering depending on the weather conditions.

    This sound very yucky, so if you don’t live in extreme conditions where you can’t get tot he doctor in an hour or so, don’t read this, but if you have a child with a very serious cold, the green mucus coming out of the nose kind and you have a dog, allow the dog to clean the childs face. All female dogs are very good at this, but I’ve even had males that would do the same thing. If your dogs are healthy they can whisk away snot in a half a second and your baby will be healthy again in half the time it takes otherwise. I don’t know how they do it but they can pull the snot out of even the ears, through the nose. The ear infections don’t build up because you don’t see what is going on until it is too late. The added benifit is the baby usually doesn’t fuss when the dog cleans them up like they will if you keep trying to wipe them off with a cloth or kneex.

    My grandma taught me this and while other women, including my mother thought it was the most awful thing….letting my dogs clean up my kids, I had three little ones and lived in a tent in the woods for a while and had some of the healty kids around. When as I say, many children were going deaf from ear infections.

    PS: Dogs can also help you with diaper rash a well…if that is an issue.

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