Sunday, October 2, 2016

Berry Picking and Akutaq

On Friday, we piled all twelve students enrolled at Pilot Point School into a truck and drove out to a section of open land near the airport.  The drive took mere minutes, but from the looks on the faces of the students, this was a grand adventure.  Upon pulling up at our destination, the students threw themselves out of the truck and took off into the tundra. Coats thrown to the side and berry-picking bags streaming behind them as they ran.

Later that night we would host a community potluck at the school, and we'd decided to pick berries and make akutaq (pronounced like uh-goo-duck) as a treat to share with the community. This meant we needed a LOT of berries. Fortunately, collecting the berries was easy work with twelve eager students to help expedite the process.  In barely an hour we had already collected multiple gallon bags of blackberries. 

After collecting the berries, we piled back into the truck and headed back to school. The students then helped us wash and sort berries and make the akutaq. The students could barely contain their excitement over the akutaq, which to them is much like eating cake or brownies would be for a student in the lower 48. I think more berries were eaten than actually made it into the dessert though, as proven by how many purple-stained mouths, teeth, and tongues there were among the students.

Cody using one of the "claws" to pick berries more quickly. 

One of our classroom aides assisted in teaching us (the newbie teachers - not the students) how to make the akutaq.  It involved crisco, berries, sugar, and oil.  In some places, other things like fish and/or animal fat can be added to the dish too.  We stuck with just berries though, and ended up with a very pretty dish that the students were proud of creating. 

At potluck, we had our two oldest students stand up and present about our day of berry picking, washing and sorting berries, and cooking. After, we all dug into the tasty food.  We had spaghetti, pasta salad, sliced ham, chips and dip (contributed by me!), fresh veggies, and a few other dishes and desserts. As always, it was fun to watch the students interacting with their families and friends in a less structured setting, and it was nice to chitchat with community members.  Mostly though, I was proud of the students and their ability to teach us, the teachers, about this part of their lifestyle.

Your turn...What are some of your favorite things to cook or bake with children?
Currently listening to...Son's Gonna Rise - Citizen Cope


  1. this is so fun! I'd love to go berry picking! i wonder if there is anything near me, thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and hope you find some berries to pick! :)


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