Air drying racks (above) were used to hang the salmon until it was ready to be put in the smokehouse (below) where the salmon would be fully dehydrated over a constantly burning fire. Dogs at the fish camps made an effective alarm system against bears and other predators. Small cabin on stilts is a cache, which was used to keep food and supplies up off the ground and away from animals.
Having a lightweight, nutritious and abundant food source allowed families to keep teams of up to 20 dogs, which would be used to work trap lines in the winter. Each dog would eat one dehydrated salmon per day. While the Athabascans would usually save the more numerous and lower quality Chum salmon for the dogs, they took great pride in the rich and oily King and Silver salmon they prepared for themselves. Each family had their own recipes, traditions and techniques for preserving salmon. The style of cut, brine ingredients, wood sources used for smoking and time spent in the smokehouse varied from village to village and from family to family.
Photo captured September 10, 2015.
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