Moose butchering workshop at Tsuut'ina Nation aims to pass on traditional knowledge
'It's nothing that you're taught in school,' says Ginger One Spot
Ginger and David One Spot have opened up their campground on the Tsuut'ina Nation near Calgary this month to teach families traditional ways of handling, smoking and packaging wild meat.
"Everything, the way I cut, it is tradition. It's nothing that you're taught in school," said Ginger One Spot.
"What I've been taught was passed down to me so I'll be passing all that knowledge to whoever shows up."
The workshop starts with teaching the "boning" process or taking the meat off the bone, before moving on to show how cut-lines need to be followed and what glands need to be taken out.
"After the meat is cut then we take it out to the smokehouse and then that's when we hang it," she said.
"There's a certain kind of wood I use that I was taught to use by my grandparents and their grandparents. The meat turns out better and It doesn't taste funny."
Teachings on how to treat the meat with respect start with the hunting process.
"We're putting these classes together for women and children to learn but there's protocols we go through first before we even do that," said David One Spot.
"We always pray for the animal and we always smudge our guns."
The amount of ammunition used is also part of showing respect.
"If it was meant to be, you only use one [bullet]," he said.
"That's the way I was taught. Never waste bullets."
Once the moose has been hunted, its hide is removed. Then, the skinned carcass is quartered for butchering.
Watch: Ginger and David One Spot on their moose butchering workshop
Kelly Gordon, originally from Inuvik, N.W.T., but studying in Alberta, said she hopes workshops like these can help Indigenous students like her who might be missing hands-on traditional education experiences.
She's seeking land-based education for herself and her nine-year-old daughter, and they attended the first workshop on Sept. 11.
"We're hands-on learners, so when we learn we need to get our hands in the blood," said Gordon.
She said she wants to learn about the process involved from start to finish, and the way of life with the learning. Gordon sees the workshop as medicine for the soul, and filling the gap between western education and Indigenous knowledge.
"I am able to adopt the same kind of traditions and ways of life here and bridge that for me and my family," she said.
The participants cut steaks and pieces for stew before the meat was packaged.
Ginger and David One Spot plan to cut bison meat at the next workshop.