Naabia Niign, Ltd.

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Naabia Niign, Ltd.

P.O. Box 476

Northway, Alaska  99764


   

Before conventional containers became available, the Athabascan Indians of interior Alaska traditonally used birchbark baskets to hold water and food items.  Along with other beautiful handmade Native crafts, Northway, Alaska is well known for its excellent baskets, which are made in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The skill involved is very high and each artist has his or her own style.  Therefore, each basket comes out with its own distinctive characteristics.

Today these beautiful creations have taken on an artform.  They make treasured gifts, unique conversation pieces, and distictive additions to any basket or Native American art collection.

We know you'll love our hand made baskets!


 

The Skill Involved

The bark of the white birch tree is harbested during the warm summer months when it clips easily from the tree.  Older growth trees are selected since their bark is pliable and sturdy.  A vertical cut is made into the outer layer of bark and it is then peeled easily from the trunk of the tree.  Eventual regrowth of this bark occurs with no harm done to the tree.

The basket rim is braced with a willow branch and stitched in place with spruce tree roots that have been peeled and split.  The roots are occassionally dyed to add color to the basket.  Birch bark baskets last forever with no special care needed. 

If you are interested in more detailed information on basket-making, our publication, "Birch Bark Baskets By A Northway Athabascan" is available for $8.00 plus shipping and handling.

 

 


Continuing the Native American Tradition.


These baskets not only serve as fine topics of discussion, they also serve as authentic pieces of history. Centuries ago, the Athabascan Indians originated in this area and used the same kind of baskets for carrying their food and water. We are proud to promote our national heritage through our basket weaving business. Our handmade baskets are locally-made in our small community, our "village along the river." Handmade from birch bark, our baskets make treasured gifts, unique conversation pieces, and distinctive additions to any basket or Native American art collection. Each basket is one of a kind and reflects the artists' distinctive style and method.

Excellent quality and unique styles.


 

Northway, Alaska has approximatel 300 residents, maily Athabascan Indians.  In addition to the village, there are many residences along the 9-mile Northway Road and Alaska Highway.  It has a modern school, a medical clinic, a log community hall and a post office.

The area surrounding Northway was historically inhabited by small, seasonal bands of Athabascan Indians who fished, hunted and trapped along the Chisana, Nabesna, and Tanana Rivers.  Today this area is known as the "Upper Tanana" Region of the state.  Around the turn of the century the Alaska-Canada border was surveyed and marked and a trading post established along the Nabesna River.  Nabesna Village, the first permanent settlement in the area, was relocated across the Nabesna River in 1940 to its present site.  At this time the village name was changed to Northway to honor Chief Walter Northway (1978-1983) who adopted the name of a river boat captain trading there in the early 1900s.

The 1940 relocation of the village connected it to the Alaska Highway, which was being built at the time.  Two miles south of Northway Village, an airstrip was built for stopovers of aircraft for the Lend-Lease Program between the U.S. and Russia during WWII.  Today the airstrip is still maintained by the FAA and is the U.S. Customs mandatory stopover point for private planes crossing into Alaska from the Lower 48 states and Canada. The Northway area records some of Alaska's coldes winter temperatures due to its location in a valley where frigid air settles.  In the summer months temperatures can reach into the 90's.

Northway is bordered on three sides by the Tetlin Natinal Wildlife Refuge, which consists of a large amount of wetlands, big game and seasonal waterfowl habitat.  Land and wildlife are of great importance to the Athabascan Indians of Interior Alaska.  Most Native residents of Northway still follow the traditional Athabascan culture and subsistence lifestyle that has been passed on to them through the generations. 

 

 



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