Skip to Content

Salmon Give Life: Learning from Alaska’s First Peoples

There are five species of salmon in Alaska, and they are a vital food source for people living a subsistence lifestyle today and in the past. Alaska Natives determined that salmon skin, carefully processed, was a durable and waterproof material for clothing, and they used it to make bags, boots, mittens and parkas. Some artists continue to use this material in their work. The curriculum below consists of five activity-based lessons and will teach students about subsistence, with a focus on salmon, and how Alaska Natives utilize local resources to survive and thrive. The two videos referred to in curriculum Lesson 3 are provided below and are part of a 10-video set on this site in the Community Videos section, titled Sewing Salmon videos.

Tags: Alaska, Alaska Native, Indigenous, salmon, subsistence, traditional ecological knowledge, salmon skin, museum, museum objects, artifacts, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Cutting Salmon Strips

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Drying Salmon

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Bag

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Bag

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Waterproof mittens

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Waterproof mittens

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.