Native artwork in Fairbanks, AK is frequently copied, and that makes it difficult for visitors to determine whether they are purchasing the real thing. Sometimes, a lack of authenticity is obvious, like the presence of a “Made in China” stamp. But other times, the untrained eye cannot tell the difference between a knock-off ulu and one that resembles the true local tool.
Since purchasing the copies does not offer any benefit to tribes or our local artists, authenticity goes beyond just bragging rights. You can start by shopping where items are locally sources. Here is why shopping for your Alaskan gifts at Arctic Travelers Gift Shop is your best choice for true native art:
- We are local: Our gift shop has been in business since 1962. During this time, we’ve created relationships with local artists and tribal members to only offer the best in souvenirs and art pieces. We also rely heavily on our reputation, and selling cheap copies of the original artifacts and tribal art would not reflect well on us. It is our goal to sell souvenirs within an ethical framework that benefits more people. Since we have always done business with Alaska in mind, there is no intention of changing that now.
- You will find authenticity: When you visit the usual tourist trap gift shops, you may not be guaranteed authentic art. There are many copies circulating, not only on eBay, but also on our city streets. Other gift shops sell these items to maintain their inventory and collect as many tourist dollars as possible. This is not our practice. Since we have longstanding relationships with artists, there is always something in our inventory that will catch your eye. Also, we do not sell cheap reproductions, so you can buy from us with confidence knowing that you are benefiting a local artist.
- Many options available: We have paintings and keepsakes, but also knives, baleen carvings and jewelry. You can bring home an ulu for the chef in your family and find different styles of Yupik baskets. There is likely something for everyone in our shop, so stop by, take your time and look around for that perfect souvenir or gift. A trip to Alaska makes for a unique vacation, and you likely want a distinguished keepsake to remember it by.
- Avoid appropriation: Another serious problem with native art is appropriation. This includes reproductions that may not be authorized by the tribe and that fail to consider the sacred meaning behind the artifact or artwork. You will not only purchase a piece that lacks authenticity, but you will benefit a corporate entity rather than the tribe that owns the idea. This issue often arises with clothing and jewelry, as well, so take the extra time to assure you buy from a retail outlet that only sources from tribal members. This prevents non-tribal entities from benefiting from unethical practices.
For native artwork in Fairbanks, AK and a variety of other authentic souvenirs, visit Arctic Travelers Gift Shop. We look forward to seeing you soon!
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