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Alaska Smiley

Alaska Smiley Smileys Button Museum
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Alaska Smiley button back Smileys Button Museum
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White text on a brown button. The image of a smiling totem pole top is in the center. 

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Totem poles and other large wood carvings depicting both humanoid and animal faces are objects commonly produced by Pacific Northwest Indigenous cultures. Some of the Indigenous bands that are connected to the land now known as Alaska include Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. A bold eye outlined in black and highlighted by a mask-like shape in turquoise is frequently seen on sculptures by the Tlingit, Haida, and Eyak peoples.

Upon the arrival of Westerners on the Pacific Northwest coast, Indigenous cultures and cultural artifacts were derisively viewed as curios and artifacts instead of the living cultural objects they are. The lasting effect of this colonial perspective on Indigenous cultural production and objects was that Indigenous works were produced for a tourist market and work with sacred meaning was used to encourage tourism.


Sealaska Heritage. (n.d.). Art. Sealaska Heritage. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

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