Local elder teaches students about harvesting moose


Paul Apfelbeck

Elder Charlotte Gowen teaches students in the Native Studies class about harvesting the moose head.

The Hawk Highlights staff

Koyukuk elder Charlotte Gowen taught students in the Native Studies class how to harvest the parts of a moose head on Monday, Sept. 27.

Native Studies teacher Claudette Green said the elder was invited to the class to show students how to use every part of the head, including the nose, which is a delicacy.

“The elders will sing, dance, and even eat while hunting,” said Mrs. Green.

The moose head was gifted to the class by Paul Apfelbeck, the media and information technology teacher. He had harvested the moose on Thursday evening (Sept. 23).

There were 13 students in the Native Studies class. While Ms. Gowen was cutting the moose and telling stories about moose hunting, the students stood around her observing and listened attentively.

“My grandpa taught me how to hunt chickens, rabbits… and showed us how to cook it over a campfire,” she said.

Ms. Gowen used an ulu to cut away the skin and the meat on the head. She cut the center jaw to get out the tongue.

“Most of the meat is on the side of the head,” said Ms. Gowen. “The women skin it, and the men cook it.” She said it’s easier to cut the moose head when it’s cold.

“It takes me altogether 40 minutes to take off the head,” she said.

She also removed the tongue. The tongue still had willow leaves on it, she said, which indicated that the moose was still eating when it was shot.

Ms. Gowen told the students that the glands located in the jaw are not edible.

She also removed one of the eyes, first cutting out the fat around the eye, and then using a small knife. “Going around the eyes, you have to be really careful, because the knife is sharp.”

She said that she learned how to cut up the moose head from her mom and the elders around her.

After the head was fully butchered, Native Studies Mrs. Green said that the class was going to use the meat to make moose head soup.

During the presentation to the class, Jim Merriner, Galena school superintendent, and Bev Kokrine, assistant superintendent, watched the elder and the students.

Ms. Gowen told students about the time she was 6 years old and her sister cried because she couldn’t shoot the moose.

She made the class laugh while talking about moose bulls during rutting season. “They roll around in their pee to impress their women,” she said.

She said that the moose head was more difficult to cut when the antlers are still on. After the demonstration, the moose head was returned to Mr. Apfelbeck, who said he plans to remove the antlers. A student showed him how to remove them.

Students writing this story are Haleigh Cowell, Logan Holland, Jaci McKindy, Anne Moses, Charlene Redfox, and Marilynn Mae.