August 31, 2014

Moosehead soup: A lesson in cultural learning

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) – Students took turns preparing a moosehead soup March 23 afternoon outside the front door of Woodriver Elementary School.

Working on cardboard, the students sliced away at meat from a donated moose's head under the direction of Brian Charlie and teacher Karen Dullen. Charlie came from Nenana to show the kids the correct way to use every part of a moose head.

The soup was one part of a week-long emphasis on cultural learning at Woodriver. Fifth- and sixth-grade students learned Alaska Native games, listened to storytellers and made moosehead soup and fry bread.

“Can I cut something?” Erica Yarde, 10, asked Charlie. This wasn't the first time Yarde and the other fifth-graders crowded around the table had learned about moosehead soup. They had watched its preparation before at Twin Bears Camp off Chena Hot Springs Road, but they still were excited about its process.

“We just watched somebody cut the meat last time,” said Branden Ray, 11.

This time, the students couldn't get enough of the hands-on experience – asking for pieces of the seared nose and lower lip to cut once the meat was done.

In Dullen's classroom, sixth-grade students were either rolling out fry bread dough or busy making Alaska Native game booklets. They had spent March 21 and March 22 learning the different events, including the seal hop, one-hand reach, arm pull and Canadian high kick, among others.

Dullen and substitute teacher Mandy Sullivan said the kids were enjoying the games immensely and couldn't get enough of practicing the separate events. While some students were shy about some of the strength games (like the arm pull), they were soon over the hesitation and trying their hardest to win, they said.

Dullen said she tries to teach her students about traditional values at least once a year. She always asks students to keep an eye out for possible moose heads for donations.

“We didn't get this when we were in school,” Dullen said to Charlie. He agreed, lamenting that fact.

“It's a life lesson,” he said.

At Woodriver Elementary School this week, students are making and eating moosehead soup.

It's part of a weeklong emphasis on cultural learning at the Fairbanks school.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that students in the fifth and sixth grades learned Alaska Native games, listened to storytellers and made moosehead soup and fry bread.

Teacher Karen Dullen told the paper she tries to teach her students about traditional values at least once a year, and she asks students to keep an eye out for possible moose heads for donations.

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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,
http://www.newsminer.com

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