All photos © Brian Adams.
When I was first introduced to The Eskimo Cookbook, I knew that I was in possession of something precious and perhaps even sacred. The paper-and-staple cookbook written by students of the Shishmaref Day School in 1951 details traditional Native Alaskan recipes for everything from Polar Bear to Whale in the simplistic language of children; the instructions are often without measurements, cooking temperatures, or times and include hand-drawn illustrations of local plants and herbs. Weathered and yellowed from handling and a shelf-life of over sixty years, the book is fragile and feels as though it could fade away at any second, not entirely unlike Shishmaref itself, currently threatened by coastal erosion induced by climate change. – Ash Adams
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Original 1951 Eskimo Cookbook by the Shishmaref Day School in Shishmaref, Alaska. Taken in Anchorage,AK in March 2010.
Johnnie Weyiouanna, outside of his shed in Shishmaref, Alaska in March 2010
Shishmaref is one of dozens of villiages in Alaska currently undergoing coastal erosion induced by climate change.
Brenda Kara Tokeinna and her daughter, Edna, outside of their home in Shishmaref, Alaska in March 2010.
Winfred’s recipe in the book was a traditional Inupiat recipe for bear, a delicacy in Shishmaref. Much of the village until recently has lived a subsistence way of life for generations.
Kiyutelluk Family in their home in Shishmaref, Alaska in March 2010 Morris Kiyutelluk, 71, wrote several recipes in the original Eskimo Cookbook, some of which he still prepares today.
Shishmaref, Alaska, feels as though it may as well be the edge of the world. For most of the year, the Inupiat village lies muffled beneath an eclipse of snow and ice, enclosed by a frozen sea.