‘Indigenous Alaskan’ means an individual who is a state resident and is an enrolled member of an Alaska tribe. 


When purchasing art from indigenous Alaskans, it’s important to understand the different subcultural entities (tribes) that reside in Alaska.

Each indigenous Alaskan entity is diverse in culture, language, food, traditional way of life, and traditional arts. 

These tribal entities reside across the vast distance of Alaska, 663,300 square miles, and have lived and thrived in vastly different landscapes. Many indigenous groups have access to the surrounding oceans where food and material are abundant, however, Interior Athabascans live next to the large rivers in the interior that supply food, transportation, and materials for art. The Inupiaq and Yup’ik/Cup’ik entities live in treeless tundra, the Athabascan people live in heavily forested areas, the Aleut & Akutiiq populate the Aleutian islands, while the southeast population has boreal forest and access to the oceans. 


Within Alaska resides the people of Inupiaq, Yupik, Athabascan, Cupik, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Eyak cultures.

Depending on where you are located in Alaska while purchasing an indigenous Alaskan item may give you a better idea of where that item has come from.

Traditional Materials often used by indigenous Alaskan artists vary among the different native entities and can include the following: walrus ivory, soapstone, bone, alabaster, animal furs and skin, baleen, Abalone, and other marine mammal materials. 

Some of this traditional art and products are shared among different group members, but the following products may be distinct between native groups. 


Recent studies have shown that 78% of US tourists take part in a cultural heritage activity while traveling. Arts and crafts are high on their list of purchases.

About half of retail purchases made by tourists in Alaska each year are presented as indigenous Alaskan arts and crafts, but the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development estimates that 75-80% of what is displayed as Native work is not made by Indigenous Alaskans at all. 

Festivals like Celebration in Juneau and Festival of Native Arts in Fairbanks give indigenous Alaskans a place to sell their crafts and contribute significantly to Alaska’s economy by boosting local tourism. Celebration brings in $2 million dollars to the local economy in Juneau. A list of yearly events is located on page 13 of the AK Native Artist Resource Workbook

Many Indigenous Alaskans sell their products online using their Facebook page and other Alaska native online outlets. Find links below. 


Shop Indigenous Alaskan Art Online

Venues for Trade Shows & Craft Fairs

February

Kivgiq, Barrow North Slope Borough Mayor’s Office,
(every other year on odd years)

March

Festival of Native Arts, University of Alaska Fairbanks

April

Cama’-i Festival, Bethel Council on the Arts
Iditarod Craft Fair, Nome

May

Kodiak Crab Festival

June

Celebration, Juneau Sealaska Heritage Institute (every other year on even years)
RurAL CAP Rural Providers Conference (alternates location statewide and is every two years)

July

Trade Fair, City of Kotzebue
Salmonfest, Ninilchik
Eagle River Bear Paw Festival
World Eskimo Indian Olympics, Fairbanks

August

Alaska State Fair, Palmer
Ketchikan Blueberry Arts Festival
Fairbanks Tanana Valley State Fair

October

Arts & Opps Showcase, First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth
Conference (alternates between Anchorage and Fairbanks)
AFN Craft Fair, Alaska Federation of Natives (alternates between Anchorage and Fairbanks)

November

Public Market, Juneau
Crafts Weekend, Anchorage Museum
Holiday Food & Gift Festival, Dena’ina Convention Center
Christmas Arts & Crafts Emporium, Dena’ina Convention Center

December

BIA Providers Conference, Anchorage
Alaska Native Heritage Center Holiday Bazaar, Anchorage
Christmas Bazaar, Barrow Lions Club
Native People’s Bazaar, ANMC in Anchorage

Ongoing throughout the year:

Saturday Market, Bethel
Yupiit Piciyarait Cultural Center- Alaska Native Heritage Center

Learn More

Travel Alaska Art Culture and History of Alaska Native People
Alaska Native Heritage Institue
Exploring Alaska
Alaska Federation of Natives
Travel Alaska – Alaska Native Festivals
Sealaska Heritage Institute
US Dept. of the Interior Indian Affairs – Alaska Region

Resources

Statewide

Alaska State Council on the Arts
161 Klevin Street, Suite 102
Anchorage, AK 99508
p: (907) 269-6610
Toll Free: (888) 278-7424
e: info@aksca.org
www.education.alaska.gov/aksca

Museums Alaska
P.O. Box 242323
Anchorage, AK 99524
p: (907) 243-4714
An association of all Alaska museums and cultural centers that provides information to organizations and artists.


National

Artswire
www.artswire.org
A website produced by New York Foundation for the Arts that
provides a communications network for the arts community
and individual artists.

Atlatl, Inc.
P.O. Box 34090
Phoenix, AZ 85067-4090
Promotes the vitality of contemporary Native American
art. Maintains registry of Native American artists; publishes
quarterly newsletter; sponsors Native Arts Network, a biennial
conference. Membership for individual artists includes many
benefits.

Center for Safety in the Arts
www.artswire.org:70/oh/csa
Clearinghouse of information and data sheets on health
hazards in the arts. Online resource only.

National Council for the Traditional Arts
1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 200
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Celebrates and honors those arts that are passed down
through time by families, communities, tribal and ethnic
groups.

National Endowment for Arts (NEA)
www.arts.gov
100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20506
First Peoples Fund
w: www.firstpeoplesfund.org
706 West Blvd
Rapid City, SD 57701

Native Arts and Culture Foundation
www.nativeartsandcultures.org
11109 NE 14th Street
Vancouver, WA 98684

Longhouse Education and Cultural Center
http://www.evergreen.edu/longhouse
The Evergreen State College
2700 Evergreen Parkway NW
Olympia WA 98505

Craft Emergency Relief Fund
www.craftemergency.org
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 838, Montpelier, VT 05601
Street Address:
28 Elm Street #2, Montpelier, VT 05602

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