The Art of Hunting: Coordinating Subsistence Laws with Alaska Native Harvesting Practices

Amber Lincoln


In this paper, I explore the socioeconomic relationships between Alaska Native harvesting practices, the laws that regulate those practices, and Alaska Native art. In the 21st century, indigenous residents of northwestern Alaska incorporate harvesting activities into their travels between small rural communities, regional centers, and larger Alaskan cities. These harvests efficiently coordinate their nutritional and cultural needs but require significant financial investments. State and federal “subsistence” laws were intended to regulate and protect Alaska Native hunting and fishing ways of life but hinder them in two ways. Subsistence laws prohibit financial gains from harvested foods and restrict hunting and fishing to specific locations. I argue that in the face of these regulatory challenges, Alaska Natives, in part, make and sell art as a way to ameliorate the disparities between subsistence laws and harvesting practices.

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