Some traditional preparations and uses of hunted meat
The flesh of the bear was cut in strips about 6 inches wide and hung on a frame to dry. If intended for winter use, it frequently was put on high racks to freeze. When used it was cut up a little and boiled. Bear meat was liked because it was so fat. All parts of the bear were eaten or utilized. The head was considered a luxury. They singed it, removed the inside, and boiled it whole. The paws were singed, scraped, and boiled. The liver was good to eat and the intestines were so fat that the Ojibwe cleaned them and fried them crisp. The stomach was filled with tallow, known as “bear's grease,” which was used for seasoning. In filling a container of this sort a funnel of birch bark was used. The gall was dried, mixed with cedar charcoal, and “pricked into the skin” as a remedy for rheumatism and other ailments.
The Ojibwe used rabbits as food, catching them near their winter camp. Detailed information was given by a Canadian Ojibwe, who said that his people caught rabbits with snares of nettle twine and prepared them as follows:
(a) The meat was removed from the bones, roasted, and pounded. The bones were then pounded with what meat remained on them. The pounded bones were boiled in a small kettle and the grease skimmed off and eaten with the pounded meat.
(b) The meat was cut in pieces and dried, the bones being dried also. The bones were pounded to a powder and mixed with the dry meat and any available grease. This was eaten dry, and not boiled at the time of using.
The fresh meat of the deer was prepared as follows:
(b) Cut in pieces and roasted on sticks before the fire.
(c) Cut in thin slices, roasted, and then pounded on a flat stone, the pounding being done with a smaller stone. After being pounded finely it was stored in makuks.
The method of drying deer meat depended on the time of year. If the deer were killed during the winter season, it was customary to dry the meat only enough so that it would keep until spring, when the drying process was completed in the sun. A good supply of meat was usually obtained during the winter and was thus partially dried on a large frame over the camp fire. If the deer were killed in the autumn, a portion of the meat was cut in strips, dried on a rack over a slow fire, and wrapped in large packets, an entire deerskin tanned with the hair on it being sometimes used for this purpose. The meat, having been dried, was prepared as follows:
(b) Chopped, mixed with bear's grease, and stored in birch-bark makuks.
(c) The meat of an entire deer was spread in layers on a tanned deer hide and pounded with a board until it was in shreds. It was then thoroughly mixed with hot deer tallow and put in a deer-hide bag. When desired for use it was cut in slices.
(d) The dried meat was cut in pieces, spread on birch bark, and covered with birch bark. A man then trod on it until it was crushed. This was called by a term meaning “foot-trodden meat.”
The bladder and large intestine were used as containers for the tallow, which was rendered and poured into them while hot, birch-bark funnels being used for this purpose.
The use of moose meat was similar to the uses of venison. The moose is abundant in the northern regions, and a Canadian Ojibwe said that his people kept moose fat in strong birch-bark makuks, with tops sewed in place with spruce root. He said that moose fat freezes readily. Its use with dried blueberries has already been mentioned.
from Densmore, Frances. 1929. “Chippewa Customs.” Bulletin. Washington: U.S. Govt. print. off.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities