I was stunned recently when one of my students asked me “Hans, do you think I could lose weight faster if I ate more beaver?”
I paused before answering the question as I wracked my brain for an answer to his question.
Eventually I had to admit defeat and ask the student where he would get such an idea from. He told me that he had recently read an article on the internet that described the diet of the America Indians before the coming of the “paleface”.
It turns out that the Indians traditionally ate a diet consisting mainly of fat and grease. They would eat just about any animal available and beaver was high on their list.
It is a well known fact that your average Indian warrior liked nothing better than to start his day with a mouthful of beaver.
By eating this diet these proud warriors enjoyed a level of health that the Fat White Man of today can only dream about.
Beaver was highly prized, especially the tail because it was rich in fat. But small animals like rabbit and squirrel were eaten only when nothing else was available because, according to Stefansson, they were so low in fat. In fact, small animals called for special preparation. The meat was removed from the bones, roasted and pounded. The bones were dried and ground into a powder. Then the bones were mixed with the meat and any available grease, a procedure that would greatly lower the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, while raising the total content of saturated fat.
In the following article your will hear about this and more.
The diets of the American Indians varied with the locality and climate but all were based on animal foods of every type and description, not only large game like deer, buffalo, wild sheep and goat, antelope, moose, elk, caribou, bear and peccary, but also small animals such as beaver, rabbit, squirrel, skunk, muskrat and raccoon; reptiles including snakes, lizards, turtles, and alligators; fish and shellfish; wild birds including ducks and geese; sea mammals (for Indians living in coastal areas); insects including locust, spiders and lice; and dogs. (Wolves and coyotes were avoided because of religious taboos)8.