"Song of the Sea: Carvings of St. Lawrence Island" Lecture, December 4, 2020

For thousands of years, Alaska Native carvers utilized Pacific walrus, fossil mammoth, and mastodon ivory to produce a large variety of tools to help them survive the difficult and often hostile Arctic environment. In the late 19th century, a marketplace for ivory objects and art emerged, and over time it became an important economic resource for local artists. However, efforts to curb the trade of illegally harvested elephant ivory have negatively affected Alaska Native communities that rely on sales of walrus ivory carving to sustain their local economies and culture. This talk by Indian Arts and Craft Board Program Specialists Lars Krutak, Ph.D., and Ken Van Wey, with special guest speaker Alaska Native master carver Ben Pungowiyi (St. Lawrence Island Yupik), explores Alaska Native ivory carving history and contemporary issues, which are also being highlighted in an exhibition at the Indian Arts and Crafts Board’s Sioux Indian Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota, from October 24, 2019 to January 20, 2020.