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Alaska Native Traditional Dress Resources


Alaska Native Traditional Dress Resources

I did not expect when moving to Fairbanks that I shouldfind much to interest me from a @160x120.jpg costume

point of view (Fairbanks is justly famous evenwithin Alaska for casual functionalism in dress). I was pleasantly and repeatedlydisappointed in that expectation. The astonishing variety of traditional dress found in museums usingfish skins, walrus guts, porcupine quills, moose hair embroidery, beads, grasses, andevery imaginable hide has made Alaska a complete orgy of new costume history sensations.

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Tlingit beadwork Raven pendant, Haines, AK.


If you are traveling to Alaska, these museums have exciting collectionsof Native dress on permanent display, and have bookshops where you can purchase books andslides.

Alaska State Museum 395 Whittier Juneau, AK 99801 (907) 465-2901 Collections: Fairly large collectionof all the Native groups of Alaska, as well as a few bits of "Old Believer"(Russian) and "American" clothing of various periods.

Anchorage Museum ofHistory and Art 121 West 7th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99501 (907)343-4326 Collections: Eskimo, Aleut, Tlingit and Athabaskan clothing and artifacts.Misc.Info: Gift/Bookshop sells Native made crafts, prints and publications.

SAMUEL K. FOX MUSEUM Seward and D. Sts. Dillingham, AK Mailing Address:P.O. Box 273 Dillingham, AK 99576 (907) 842-2322 Collections: Southwestern Yupik Eskimoarts and crafts, basket weaving, and skin sewing (clothing).


SHELDON JACKSON MUSEUM 104 College Drive.Sitka, AK 99835 (907) 747-6233 Collections: The best collection of early Native dress inthe State, since this collection was started much earlier than the others. Items includeFish skin, gut skin and bird skin parkas, pre-contact style Athabaskan style garments withquill work trim, and an exceptional series of c.1900 photographs of Tlingit ceremonialdress. Misc. Info.: The bookstore sells slides, books and Native crafts (when I visited in1989 they had a fishskin purse for sale with little fins sticking out on the sides!)

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SHELDON MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER Main Streetand First Haines, AK Mailing Address: P.O. Box 623 Haines, AK 99826 (907) 766-2366Collections: Ethnographic collection includes Tlingit jewelry, dress and Chilcat Blankets,Eskimo gut skin parka and misc. other garments, and Athabaskan accessories. Misc. Info.:Connected with Alaska Indian Arts organization. Houses AIA collection when it isn't beingused for performances, including several Chilcat blankets. Bookstore.

SITKA NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK 106 Metlakatla St. Sitka, AK 99835 (907)747-6281 Collections: Good little collection of Tlingit and Haida dress. Misc. Info.: Alsohouses a cultural center where the production of traditional clothing is taught. Gift shopsells newly-made traditional clothing, jewelry and craft items.

TONGASS HISTORICAL MUSEUM 629 Dock St. Ketchican, AK 99901 (907)225-5600 Collections: 182 costume items including 27 Native masks, and an unusualcollection of Native and modern Alaskan dress.

907 YukonDrive Fairbanks, AK 99775-1200 (907) 474-7505 Collections: Large collections of Tlingit,

Eskimo, Aleut, and

Athabaskan garments,accessories and textiles, including extensive collection of Athabaskan beaded articles andquillwork. A significant amount of the collection is on permanent display.Misc.Info.: Bookstore sells many books andposters on Native arts, including many of those mentioned in this listing. Will sell booksthrough mail-order catalog.


Available from the Sheldon Jackson Museum:

Tlingit Raven Shirt 1-a-288

Tlingit Headdress 1-a-133

Tlingit Mask 1-a-142

Tlingit Kiksadiclan Raven Helmet 1-a-131

Tlingit Dance Apron 1-a-262

Athabaskan Mittens IV-a-10

Athabaskan Mittens IV-c-7

Athabaskan Knife and Sheath IV-d5 a, b

Athabaskan Men's Trousers IV-x-10

Athabaskan Skin Suit IV-x-22 a, b

Eskimo Mask 11-b-81

Eskimo Fishskin Hood and Cape 11-h-17

Eskimo Fishskin Parka 11-h-75

Eskimo Fishskin Mukluks 11-h-21

Eskimo Hunting Hat 11-f-13

Available from the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center:

Chilcat Blanket #700

Chilcat Dancers #C-02

Unfinished Chilcat Blanket #C-03

Alaska Indians (Tlingit) in Costume #54

Available from the University of Alaska Museum:

Beaded Sled Bag, Ft. Yukon, c. 1905

Chief Thomas' Jacket, Tanana, c. 1910

Beaded Mittens, c. 1925

Beaded Game Bag, c. 1920

Beaded Baby Belt, Kutchin, Old Crow, c. 1940

Performing Arts:

ALASKA INDIAN ARTS 23 Fort Seward Dr. Haines, AK Mailing Address: P.O.Box 269 Haines, AK 99827 (907) 766-2160 Performances: Tlingit dances/pantomimed storiesperformed at the Chilcat Center by a large (30-40) group during Summer. This group has anexceptional traditional dress collection, including several Chilcat blankets. They are the onlygroup that performs while wearing these and so provide the only chance to see the blankets"in action" as they were intended to be worn.

NORTHERN INUA SHOW --UAF Museum Dome, Fairbanks, AK 99775, (907)452-4529 Box office: (907) 456-7529 Performances: Shows traditional dances and athleticfeats in modern renditions of traditional dress. Summers only.

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FESTIVAL OF NATIVE ARTS Univ. of AlaskaFairbanks Fairbanks, AK 99701 (907) 474-7181 Performances: Week-long festival includingmany dance groups, a large crafts fair, etc. held in late February-early March on the UAFcampus.

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TUMA THEATRE/THEATRE UAF Department of TheatreUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK 99775-1510 (907) 474-7751 Performances:Performs full-length company-written dramas in Native dance/pantomime style, in acombination of Native languages and English. Costumes (Editor's note: I'm the chiefdesigner.) are modern adaptations of traditional dress.


The Cooperative Extension service of the University of Alaska Fairbanksputs out several patterns in pamphlet form in cooperation with the USDA. These patternsare modern renditions of traditional Alaskan clothing designs which are now used by manyNative and nonnative inhabitants of the colder parts of Alaska. These pamphlets are soldat cost in the interest of teaching newcomers how to dress without breaking the bank ordying of hypothermia in a Fairbanks winter:

The Cloth Parka, #72 - $.75

Fur Parka, #71 - $1.00

Tanning at Home #A-00320 - $1.00

Family Winter Clothing for Interior Alaska (informational pamphlet) - Free

These pamphlets are chiefly of interest as examples of modern AlaskanWinter attire. It should be emphasized that these items are worn equally by Native andnonnative inhabitants in Fairbanks as they provide a good cheap alternative to theexpensive (and more common) commercial down jackets. Local Alaskan sewing stores also sellfull-size patterns for modern Alaskan parkas.



If you travel to Fairbanks, you may wish to purchase Native Athabaskanneedlework supplies such as beads, porcupine quills, and books on Indian Beadwork. The twobest suppliers in town are:

BEADS AND THINGS 537 2nd Ave Fairbanks, AK 99701 (907) 456-BEAD (alsosells beaded items)

THE ALASKA RAW FUR COMPANY 4106 Boat St Fairbanks, AK 99701 (907)479-2462 (also sells fur of all descriptions)

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This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto, originally founded by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. from 1996-2014, now flying free as a wiki for all to edit and contribute. Site maintained, hosted, and wikified by Andrew Kahn. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in this site.