In spring, our people looked forward to fresh food from plants, fish, returning waterfowl and small mammals such as beaver. They collected wild rhubarb, wild onion, fireweed shoots and birch sap. Tonics and teas were made from a variety of plants such as juniper berries, yarrow, birch leaves and twigs, spruce tips and Labrador tea.
Certain kinds of plants were harvested for materials used to create a variety of useful things. Some examples are birch wood for snowshoe frames, birch bark for containers and canoes, and the pliable spruce roots collected in spring and used for weaving containers and stitching birch bark.
Late summer and early fall were busy times of gathering and storing food for the long winter. Women and children gathered a great array of fruit as each ripened: moss or crowberries, blueberries, high bush cranberries, low bush cranberries or lingonberries, raspberries, rose hips, currants, stoneberries or kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and soapberries. With digging sticks, they unearthed edible roots such as bear root (Hedysarum alpinum).
In the early 20th century, our people began planting large gardens at Moosehide and Twelvemile. They grew potatoes, carrots, radishes, lettuce, cabbages and turnips. Often their produce won prizes at Dawson City's annual Harvest Fair.
Highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule).
The most important thing when you take stuff from Mother Earth, you have to put something back. Tea, or whatever you have.
Peggy Kormendy, 2013
Hannah Alexie from Fort McPherson, collecting spruce sap,.taken during the Elders’ Spring Camp in 2012.