Unangam Hitnisagin with the 3rd graders.

Eagle’s View Elementary Achigaalux was the host for the first week of the Unangan Language and Culture Program this past week.  With the assistance of Program coordinator Mary Downs, and volunteer Pat Ellis, I was successful in finishing out the first week without mishaps.  Twenty-four 3rd graders participated in learning about Unangam Hitnisagin, or Aleut plants. 

We discussed gathering rules, the uses of plants – whether they were edible or medicinal, or both – made Unangam Hitnisagin books, and – best of all – were able to make items from three of the plants that were discussed.

A student's rendition of blueberries adorns the cover of his booklet.

Monday’s class was dedicated to sixsiqax^ (wormwood).  We discussed the traditional Unangan uses, then got right to work rendering the plant in olive oil.  By doing this, we took the medicinal properties from the plant material and transferred it to the oil, so that we could then use the oil as an exterior rub for aching muscles and joints.  Each student wrote about sixsiqax^ in their booklets, made a label for the container, and then chose an essential oil to add to the plant oil. 

The absolutely indispensible Mary Downs!

Tuesday and Thursday were all about saaqudiigamax^ or angelica.  The students learned that the basic process of rendering plants remains the same, but you can go beyond just an oil….you can add a thickener to make an ointment or salve.  As the angelica plant is used for relief of muscles and joints, plus curing infections, and healing burns – especially the dread putchky burn – they were all about making sure they got their ointment!

On Friday, the students came in raring to go.  They knew that in order to get their final project done, they would have to be on their toes and ready to work.  They learned that chngaatudax, or yarrow, was not only good for coagulating blood, keeping colds at bay, and keeping germs out of cuts, but that it also made a wicked lip balm.  A little tube of goodness for all those chapped lips. 

Getting the yarrow plant ready for the olive oil.
Learning the process step-by-step.
Learning the process step by step.
Getting the directions written down.
Yarrow lip balm and angelica salve.


Now that we have the timing down, fourth grade should be a breeze next week!

3 thoughts on “Unangam Hitnisagin with the 3rd graders.

    1. I honestly don’t know how this last year got away from me. I had planned on doing some classes and time just whipped on by like I was going in the opposite direction. I will endeavor to work with Shawn to make this happen!

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