Making Bone Grease or Puiñiq

Puiñiq Today

The production of puiñiq has a long history among the Nunamiut people of Anaktuvuk Pass, and a continuing one as well.  Many of the older women in the community continue the springtime ritual of pounding up bones that were saved over the course of the winter and rendering them into puiñiq.  Nowadays, some women prefer to do this work away from the hustle and bustle of the village, traveling instead to the outlying camp of Kaŋuumavik, some five miles to the north.  Here, they find themselves in a familiar and comforting setting, in the relative quiet of a camp among the willows with a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains, in much the same circumstances as when they first learned about the production of puiñiq from their grandmothers, mothers and aunts.  Now, on a warm sunny day, in the company of old friends and younger women eager to learn about making puiñiq, they can comfortably work outside, putting the youngsters to work pounding the bones as the elders carefully supervise the boiling and rendering process.  And now, in their senior years, they too can enjoy the privilege of snacking on the frothy qapukluk as they did as children and as had the elders of their day, while passing along this ancient practice and tradition to today’s youth.