Art Practices

of the Alaskan tribes


The Inupiat tribes initiate useful tools like harpoons, snow beaters, bows, float discs, arrows, float discs, boot sole creasers, skin scrapers, handles, fat removers, belts, spoons, rope, and other clothing from materials they see locally. These materials include fish skin, polar bear fur, caribou hide, whale baleen (baleen basketry), old ivory and seal (every part of each animal is usually used somehow for tool-making when it is not consumed). Masks were most times made for ceremonial purposes, bringing animals, the people, and spirits together in one being. Traditionally sculptures are “good luck amulets” for the purpose of hunting, or toys for small children sometimes rather than made for decoration. Objects are mostly colored with the aid of charcoal and a layer of fish oil was also applied thereafter so as to make sure that it does not wear off. Even though contemporary commercial paints are popularly used today. Parkas (jackets) and mukluks (shoes) were sewn by women from animal hides and were usually only elaborately decorated for the purpose of ceremonies. This art form is known as “skin-sewing.”

The Yup'ik tribes

The Yup’ik tribes traditionally decorate the majority of their tools, and the ones that perform the least functions are not even left out. One of their most common types of art are masks, normally carved out of wood and varies in size between a few inches tall and several pounds in weight. Most times they create masks for ceremonies however the masks are traditionally spoilt following their use. These masks are employed in such a way that they bring the person wearing it good fortune and luck in hunts. Masks are the product of the efforts of multiple people, sometimes initiated by one in mind but physically made by another.

The Tlingit tribes

The Tlingit tribes’ artwork is also sometimes functional. Their artwork mostly involves clothing and carvings, like totem poles and canoes and, which are still well known today. The tools normally employed for carving are knives, locally made of shell, bone, or stone, dependent on the artist and its purpose. The materials that are made were bone of goat or sheep, and most times wood. Many types of wood can be located in Alaska‚Äôs southeastern panhandle; a couple of the main species include cedar (both red and yellow) for canoes and totems, and lastly, alder is useful in making utensils and dishes and for eating since that wood does not transmit its taste onto the food. Totem poles always have a story to tell, as the Tlingit culture is traditionally an oral culture accompanied with written history on the low. Each animal that can found on a totem pole depicts family crests or tells a precise story.