When our people go hunting, it is to provide food and clothing for their families. Food from the land is called tl'eeyegge baabe', which means Native food. Children are taught to respect the land and the food. This respect is taught through stories that tell of our beliefs and through practicing our traditional ways. We believe that food from the land involves keeping your luck. When someone goes out hunting, they say "I'm going to look around" instead of boldly saying they are going to get a moose. This indirect way of talking is done to show respect to the animal, it gives itself to us. If we do something against nature we could lose our luck. This picture of moose meat hanging in the smokehouse is just beautiful because it shows how well each part of the catch is carefully taken care of. Hunting isn't about getting trophy antlers, it is about putting food on the table. People know how to put away each part of the meat and organs. There are certain parts of the meat, like backstrap, ribs, moose head, and brisket, that are put away for potlatches. When someone gets their first moose, the main organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys, are given to elders in the community. This is our way of showing respect and to keep our luck.
Native Language Coordinator Yukon-Koyukuk School District
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