SLAM: Artifacts of Intrigue

I absolutely love the State, Library, Archives and Museum (SLAM)! My children and I have been patiently awaiting its opening since the State museum closed for construction in 2014. I appreciated the invitation to slow down and really look at and read about the treasures living in our new museum.

Having recently learned about the resurgence of the art of fish skin sewing I took notice of a number of pieces at the SLAM that were made in this technique.  The first piece is an Eskimo fish skin ball, from St. Michael, made of dried fish skin with reinforced tanned leather seams. It’s so simple, yet ingenious at the same time.


The second fish skin piece is a pair of Yupik salmon skin boots from the Lower Yukon. I love the detail added to the seams, trim and boot tops.

Yupik salmon skin boots from the Lower Yukon

Seeing these beautiful functional pieces reminded me of my curiosity about the revived art of skin sewing and led me to further investigation. Below is a great video by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History explaining the process as it is being rediscovered by several Alaskans.

3 thoughts on “SLAM: Artifacts of Intrigue”

  1. Jasmine, Thank you so much for this post! I don’t know how I missed this entire section on fish skin sewing,… but SLAM was overwhelming and I feel like I need to spend more time there in order to take it all in. I really appreciate all that I have already learned from you in our short time together.

    1. Jasmine, I really liked that you included a video. The post gave me an opportunity for further learning. I also appreciate the way you show a similar material (fish skin) and compare its use regionally and culturally. It was really nice to hear your interpretations and see what little things you noticed throughout the museum, there was so much to see!

      1. Jasmine,

        Thanks for this post and your enthusiasm about SLAM. I’m hoping to join the crew for the next trip. Your post could also lead to a lesson for the iBook. The employees at SLAM are very excited about the MAT students working and researching in the new facility. I hope that all students will continue to take advantage of the resources in their teaching (digitally) after they leave Juneau. Nice work.


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