Fairbanks’ northern Alaska clime has a rich tapestry of indigenous cultures—Athabascan Indians in the Interior and Inupiaq Eskimos in the Arctic. Traditionally a nomadic people, many Athabascans retain a subsistence lifestyle which includes fishing, hunting and trapping supplemented by modern technology. The Inupiaq Eskimos subsist on the land and sea of northwest Alaska with its often extreme climate.
This rich tapestry comes to life through beadwork, ivory and bone carvings, dolls and skin sewing, and birch, spruce root and grass baskets—all handmade by Alaska Native artists. Dancing, drumming and storytelling also enjoy a rich legacy in the Interior and the Arctic. Dance along during the Athabascan Fiddlers Festival in November, learn more about Alaska’s Native culture at the Festival of Native Arts in March or see incredible feats of athletic ability at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in July. You’ll find beautiful beaded moose hide slippers, caribou skin masks, baleen baskets, walrus ivory cribbage boards and more on display and for sale. Outstanding Alaska Native artists offer a very real link to the past, as well as a bridge to the future.
One thing that Fairbanks has taught me about my own culture is how much history is in our own city, from the potlatches to the Native dances and sports at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. One memory that stands out to me is the canvas tent inside the exhibit hall in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. I went there with my mom and she told me that when she was growing up, she and her 11 siblings would sleep in a tent just like that on the Yukon River while their parents were harvesting fish or berries or moose. I was so amazed because the tent was so small! Fairbanks holds a lot of history and the Natives here hold a lot of stories and I love that!
101 Dunkel Street, Suite 111
Fairbanks, AK 99701-4806
Telephone: (907) 456-5774
Visitor Guide Request: 1-800-327-5774
About Explore Fairbanks