Alaska Heritage Museum

In Anchorage, the first stop on our Alaska vacation, we visited the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo. Owned and operated by the Wells Fargo Bank, this private collection has more than 900 Alaska Native artifacts that show the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the Alaska Natives needed to create beautiful and functional products from the the materials at hand.

The Bering Sea kayak shown above is custom made to fit the owner. The driftwood ribs are tied together with sinew and covered with sealskin. The native people of North America invented the kayak.

This waterproof parka is made from walrus winter gut (intestines). Walrus gut is tan. Winter gut is bleached by cleaning it, filling it with seawater, and leaving the gut exposed to the wind and sub-zero temperatures of winter. A special stitch ensures that the seams are waterproof. Parkas are usually plain; this parka is decorated for a shaman to use for spiritual ceremonies. A winter gut lays at the bottom of the case.

winter gut parka
winter gut parka

These dolls are clothed in winter gut parkas. The dolls incorporate beaver, badger, seal, and reindeer.

Yupik dolls
Yupik dolls

This argillite dish is in the style of Charles Edenshaw, a Haida carver. Argillite is a black shale from British Columbia. The Haida people lived in southern Alaska and British Columbia. Per a museum sign, the Haida language and traditional dancing was forbidden during 1880 and 1920. According to wikipedia, the Haida language is spoken by 20 native speakers today and is endangered.

argillite dish
argillite dish

This 46-ounce gold nugget was found near Fairbanks, Alaska, in discarded gravel from a mine.

46-ounce gold nugget
46-ounce gold nugget

We enjoyed the exhibits at the Alaska Heritage Museum and found the small museum to be educational, comfortable, and accessible.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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