Alana Brown, 7, of Huslia and Fairbanks, wanted to learn how to cut fish. As she was cutting her first fish, she said, “When I grow up, I’m gonna cut lots of fish.” When her aunt Lisa Bifelt asked her why, she replied, “Just to try it, see if it would be fun.” After she was done, she said it was fun.
These photos of Alana show the steps to cut whitefish for drying or for making it into k’eyoge’ (half-dried).
1) Go ees taaseze — this is a broad whitefish.
2) Alana scales the fish.
3) K’et’oł — she is cutting fish. The fish is cut along the backbone to make fillets.
4) Yedengheezenh — she scored it. Alana’s uncle, Shawn Huffman, supervises to make sure she scores it evenly and doesn’t cut through the skin.
5) Yeelgges — she stretched it out. The fish is stretched so air will flow through the spaces to aid the drying process.
6) K’eyoge’ laaghe et’oł — she cut it for half-dried fish.
Taaseze est’oł ts’uh kk’aa dest’aa — I like cutting whitefish.
The Athabascan Word of the Week appears every Saturday on page A3 of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The words are provided by Susan “K’etsoo” Paskvan of Yukon-Koyukuk School District. She is originally from the village of Koyukuk on the Yukon River in Interior Alaska. She is Tleeyegge Hut’aane, which is Koyukon Athabascan. She seeks stories and phrases from both Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) and Denak’a (Lower Tanana Athabascan), which are languages spoken in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District region. Yukon-Koyukuk School District serves the villages of Allakaket, Hughes, Huslia, Koyukuk, Nulato, Kaltag, Ruby, Manley Hot Springs and Minto. The Board of Education places a priority on teaching the Native languages within the district.