The traditional Inuit diet was composed of seal, whale, caribou, walrus, polar bear, arctic hare, fish, birds, and berries. Very little vegetation exists so nutrients historically came from raw food. Over the past two or three decades the Inuit people have been introduced to modern, Western-style food (including fast food).  The Inuit diet has changed dramatically and not so much for the better.

A traditional bread, bannock, was made while trapping or living in camps. The dough could be wrapped around a stick and cooked over an open fire.



  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ cups water


Mix ingredients together to form a stiff dough.

Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface. With clean hands, knead the dough. Dust hands and dough with flour if the dough is sticky.

Form in a round loaf about 1 inch high.

Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with butter and jam or honey.

Akutaq is a Yupik word that means mix them together, but Westerners called it Eskimo Ice Cream. Akutaq is pronounced a-goo-duk and is made in many different ways. It was traditionally made by the Inuit as a food to help them survive while on long hunting trips.  Akutaq was originally made with moose meat and fat, caribou meat and fat, or fish.  Seal oil or berries were added to the recipe. Since sugar was not available, the berries were used for their flavor and sweetness. The Inuit collect berries during the spring and summer and save them for winter’s food preparation.

This was a healthy and tasty treat but centuries ago there weren’t any written recipes. Each family made akutaq based on the instructions passed down from generation to generation.

The traditional way to teach people to make akutaq is to let them watch and learn.  When the akutaq is done some traditions draw a shape of a cross in the middle of the akutaq Then some take each type of berry from the akutaq (unless there is only one type of berry) and a pinch of the mixture, and throw it into the fire.  When you do that, you say, “Tamarpeci nerluci.” That’s Yupik, for “All of you eat.”

Modern Eskimo Ice Cream


  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water, berry juice, or 2 cups loose snow (optional)
  • 4 cups fresh berries, (blueberries, cloudberries, cranberries, salmonberries , or blackberries)

* Crisco solid vegetable shortening is preferred

In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add water, berry juice, or snow and beat until well combined. Fold in berries, 1 cup at a time, until blended.

Place in freezer to firm up before serving.

Many lives ago, an Inuit girl dashed through a land of snow and stones and caribou and stars. She was small and inquisitive and always, always running. Her father said she reminded him of the arctic hare, the ukaliq. From that day, she was known as Ukaliq.

Ukaliq loved to be outside where she could juggle and wrestle with her brothers and sisters. Her feet would barely touch the thin grass that cloaked the earth in summer or winter's blanket of snow.

scroll up more scroll down