Although store-bought food is readily available in great variety, many Inuvialuit continue to eat more nutritious and less costly country foods. Families still hunt and fish for a good part of their diet.
Consuming country foods is important to Inuvialuit identity and is the culmination of a series of cooperative activities - harvesting, processing, distributing and preparing - that require behaving in ways that emphasize Inuvialuit values of cooperation, sharing and generosity.
They used to round up the caribou and chase them into the water. Once the caribou were in the water, they would chase them with their qadjut (kayaks) and kill them with spears.
- Inuvialuit Pitqusiit, The Culture of the Inuvialuit, 1991, p. 31
Traditional country foods include caribou, muskox, polar bear, arctic hare, muskrat, seal, bearded seal, duck, goose, ptarmigan, beluga and bowhead whale, fish (whitefish, herring, inconnu, arctic char and trout) and berries (aqpiit, blueberries, crowberries, currants and cranberries).
Here are some other examples of traditional Inuvialuit foods:
Diced caribou meat, vegetables, rice, and stock.
Deboned fish hung to dry in the sun or smoked in a smokehouse.
Mipku (or dry meat)
Thin strips of whale, caribou, bearded seal, or goose meat which have been hung to dry.
Skin of a whale (beluga or bowhead), which can be cooked or eaten raw after aging.
Muqpauyaq (or bannock)
Made of flour, sugar, baking powder, lard and milk or water, then fried over an open fire or baked in the oven.
Putuligaat (or Eskimo donuts)
Deep fried donuts with 6 to 8 holes.
Meat that is frozen raw and then eaten.
Fish eggs that may be eaten frozen or cooked.
Oil from a whale, bearded seal, or seal.
Many Inuvialuit believe that fresh water from lakes or blocks of ice should be used in the making of tea for extra essence. This water is also collected from the ice that makes up an iceberg.
Also known as Eskimo ice cream. Its two main ingredients include fat and cooked caribou meat that has been blended together.