Traditional Medicine


Raw ptarmigan breast meat is eaten by chronically ill people who have lost their appetite, and it is used in thin slices on boils, on the neck (for a sore throat), or on the eyelids of a snow-blinded person. The dried neck skin is used to cover cuts and burns, and the thigh skin may be applied to a boil. Ptarmigan down mixed with rancid seal fat or just raw ptarmigan oil may be used to treat a cut.

It is a common cure to eat a whole loon or red-throated loon. Usualy raw, sometimes boiled, the whole bird must be eaten, if not at one meal then at least in one day. Often, the gall bladder or the top part of the esophogus must be eaten first. This treatment is for people who have tuberculosis, asthma, seizures, or children who have fainted during a fit. Also, dried loon intestines are chewed to relieve a stomach-ache.

Other birds
Goose oil is used raw on cuts, and the thinner bone of a goose wing is hollowed out and used as a “straw” to help extract pus from a boil. Raw owl oil is used on cuts and impetigo, and the skin from a black guillemot (pitsiulaaq) is used to clean the inner eyelid.

Wing feathers of any bird are useful. The outer (soft) end of a feather is used as a dropper for earache drops (it is sharpened first) or used to test the temperature of boiling oil; if it burns, the oil ready.