Alaska is a treasure trove of jaw-dropping experiences and sights. Luckily, the joy you get from exploring this wild landscape doesn’t need to end when you leave. Instead, find a few meaningful gifts for yourself, friends, and loved ones to share and recall memories.
Throughout the state, you can discover authentic Alaska gifts and souvenirs. From gift shops in Denali and art galleries in Fairbanks to mom-and-pop stores in Anchorage and outdoor markets in Seward, you’ll surely be able to find a meaningful souvenir to take home. Here are six of our favorite made in Alaska gifts to help start your memorabilia journey.
Alaska Native Art
Alaska has a rich Native American history, and many of the native peoples sell high-quality merchandise at local markets and gift shops. You can find one-of-a-kind wildlife sculptures made from hand-carved walrus ivory, hand-woven birch baskets, jewelry, clothes, and more. While you’re shopping, look for the sticker or tag with the silver handprint to signify that Alaska Natives make the product. If you’re visiting or working in Anchorage, many local art galleries work directly with native artists and can tell you the story behind your purchase. If you don’t see anything eye-catching enough at a local gallery, then visit the Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center. Both boast excellent Alaska Native art rarely found outside of the state.
Among Alaska’s iconic souvenirs is the ulu knife. This crescent-shaped knife is modeled on a traditional design used for thousands of years by Alaska Native people. The ulu knife is commonly used for processing fish and game, chopping vegetables, and cutting nuts and grains. Anchorage is also home to The Ulu Factory, which makes knives on site and offers many designs and behind-the-scenes looks.
Alaska is a frigid place, and we like to bundle up to stay warm in the chilly months. Among the warmest clothes around are made with musk ox wool, also known as qiviut. The warm material is softer than sheep’s wool and lacks the oils that can make other materials itchy. Qiviut is commonly crafted into hats, scarves, sweaters, and more by a co-operative of Alaska Native knitters. You can find qiviut products throughout the state. If you’d like to support Alaska Natives directly, the Oomingmak shop in Anchorage serves as the knitter co-op’s commercial outlet.
Glacial mud isn’t what it sounds like. You’re not bringing home a vat of squishy, sticky mud. Instead, you’re finding some of the world’s finest beauty products that rely heavily on the fine, silky soil Alaska’s glaciers produce. Alaska glacial mud is harvested near the Copper River, and is a primary ingredient in mineral-rich beauty masks and mineral soaps.
Our Canadian neighbors love their maple syrup, which they use as a sweetener for nearly everything. Maple syrup is great, but Alaska birch syrup is superior as a tasty sweetener for pancakes, coffee, tea, and more delightful Alaskan dishes. Birch syrup is also used to brew birch beer and make delightfully delicious candies. Birch trees are everywhere in Alaska, and you can find birch syrup in local stores and gift shops all over the state.
Qiviut is a great material for keeping your upper body warm, but it doesn’t do much for your feet. If you’re leaving Alaska for another cold, snowy environment, a pair of hand-made Alaskan mukluks will keep your feet dry, supported, and comfy. Mukluks are soft, fur-lined boots originally made by the Inuit native peoples. The boots are also popular in Canada and Minnesota.
Visiting or working in Alaska gives you a chance to make once-in-a-lifetime memories. And made in Alaska gifts help you keep those memories fresh and top of mind. Take a look at our current job openings and start planning what memorabilia you’ll bring home.