Each piece of Alaska Native art has a rich history attached to it. With techniques passed down for hundreds of years, and designs passing the test of time, each region has its own celebrated style as well. In recent decades, Alaska Native art has made exciting forays into modern art, giving new life to old tradition.
Annual opportunities to purchase Alaska Native art
The annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is the largest gathering of Alaska Native people each year. Held annually in October, thousands of AFN delegates attend from all regions of Alaska. Almost all event are open to the public; many people are drawn in by dancing, art and food. The Alaska Native Arts and Craft Fair, open during convention hours, has more than 100 Alaska Native artists selling their wares.
A relatively new annual event, the Alaska Native Medical Center’s Native People’s Bazaar comes just in time for Christmas, and benefits the Native Scholarship Fund. While the bazaar is a smaller event than many art gatherings, it generally has some harder to find pieces like ivory carvings and dance masks.
Typically held early December, the Alaska Native Heritage Center Holiday Bazaar is fast becoming a holiday staple, with dozens of Alaska Native artists from around the state hosting booths. No admission is required, and many independent artists who are usually unable to take credit cards partner with the Alaska Native Heritage Center to offer the service at this event.
Amid the annual festivities of the mid-winter Fur Rendezvous, the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market is becoming a favorite tradition. Alaska Native artist booths line the Dimond Center hallways, and visiting with the Native vendors is a great way to learn more about the art and history of what they do.
Southcentral Foundation Annual Gathering is a free family event invites the Anchorage community to learn more about health and wellness. Dozens of booths are reserved just for Alaska Native elder artists to sell kuspuks, beaded earrings, carved pins and more.
Tickets must be purchased for Koahnic Broadcasting Corporation’s Alaska Native Art Auction fundraising event, but for the Alaska Native art aficionado, this would be well worth the expense. Large and unique items are auctioned, and opportunities to meet the artists abound.
Open all year
For those who cannot make one of the annual events, there are many shops open year-round in Anchorage, specializing in authentic Alaska Native. Here are just a few of the nonprofit organizations supporting Native artists:
- Alaska Native Heritage Center Gift Shop
- Alaska Native Medical Center Gift Shop
- Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery
- Anchorage Museum Shop