The Alutiiq, Indigenous inhabitants of the coastal regions of Southwest Alaska, created garments made from fish skins, especially salmon, expertly sewn by women from Kodiak Island. Traditionally, Alutiiq education focused on acquiring survival skills: how to navigate the seas in all weathers, hunting, fishing and tanning animal skins. Today, many Alutiiq people continue to provide for their families through subsistence fishing, honouring the ocean and navigating difficult times by listening to their collective wisdom. This paper describes the series of fish skin tanning workshops taught by June Pardue, an Alutiiq and Inupiaq artist from Kodiak Island that connected participants in Alaska Native communities during the COVID-19 isolation months. Through an online platform, June passed on expert knowledge of the endangered Arctic fish skin craft, assisting participants in coping with the pandemic crisis by tapping into their knowledge of the natural world, cultural resourcefulness, storytelling abilities and creative skills. Brought into the digital age, the fish skin workshops strengthened connections among Alutiiq and Alaskan craftspeople while establishing new connections with an expanded network of fashion designers, museum curators, conservators and tanners. Finally, the paper highlights how fish skin Indigenous practices address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) regarding poverty, health and well-being, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, social inequality, responsible consumption and production, climate change and maritime issues.
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