Who wants another “My Friend Went To Alaska And All I Got Was This Crummy T-Shirt” souvenir? Certainly no one you know! With all the richness and culture in our nation’s 49th state, you can certainly do better than that.
Alaska is such a unique destination in that it truly does have it’s own past and traditions. That means art, indigenous artifacts, and plenty of history. Its arctic landscape also provides rocks, minerals, and other natural wonders that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. So forget about that dollar store shot glass or tacky ashtray. Here are the treasures you SHOULD be bringing home from Alaska!
1. Jade – The official state gem, you’ll find everything from jewelry to ornate carved statues made from this glorious green stone. Where does it all come from? There’s an actual Jade Mountain where it’s mined on the Seward Peninsula.
2. Gold – It’s no secret that Alaska was a hotspot for gold during the Gold Rush of the late 1800’s. In fact, panning and digging for gold is still popular statewide. You’ll find keepsakes made from this precious metal at most of the popular shops.
3. Native Artwork – Indigenous people in Alaska created goods out of necessity whether it was a bowl, tools, or even clothing. Adorning these items with ornaments depicting their stories of daily life, later called scrimshaw, raised their value significantly in trade. It’s a tradition that has remained and is evident in the beautiful artwork that is still produced in Alaska today.
4. Totem Pole – These carved towers of cedar have been standing proudly for hundreds of years. They tell stories of the native people and are a proud symbol of their culture. One of the oldest living totem pole artists, Nathan Jackson, still creates and sells his world famous pieces.
5. Masks– Made from driftwood and even animal bones, these native masks have a long history of being created for use in rituals and ceremonies. Artists continue sharing this tradition with visitors, creating pieces using local materials, vibrant colors, and beautiful feathers.
6. Smoked Salmon – If you come to Alaska for any delectable treat, be sure to sample plenty of seafood. Salmon is one of their largest exports and smoked salmon makes a fantastic souvenir. One of the best methods of preservation, it will be a welcomed memory to enjoy even after your trip is over.
7. Ulu Knife – Widely utilized by the Inuit and Aleut people, the Ulu knife has a curved blade that can be used for anything from skinning animals to trimming blocks of ice. It’s a great all-purpose tool that you’ll love using at home and even makes a beautiful piece for display.
8. Mukluks – Have you heard it can get a bit chilly in Alaska? Well there’s no one more qualified to make warm boots than people from the arctic. Traditionally made from fur and animal skin, nothing will keep your toes toastier. After all, they’ve been tested at 55 degrees below zero!
9. Glacial Mud – Harvested from actual Alaskan glaciers, this mineral rich mud has been proven to have many skin benefits. Used in luxury spas all over the world, this mud is known to detoxify, exfoliate and aid in skin cell regeneration.
10. Bath Products– You can imagine some incredible flowers and herbs are grown alongside those breathtaking mountains and valleys. Artisans craft the most magical smelling soaps, lotions, and balms from these locally grown sources.
With such a wide range of treasures to choose from, you can bring home an authentic piece of Alaska without even hurting your wallet. Support these surviving artists and share their rich culture with everyone you know back home. And once the last bite of smoke salmon is eaten, and the final bar of soap is gone, you’ll just have to head back up to this arctic paradise for more.