Carving-Small Alaska Native Ivory Beluga Whale Carving with Baleen Eyes
This small whale (only about two inches long) was carved by an Alaskan Native artist and acquired in the early 1970s by the owner on one of many trips to Alaska. No walrus tusk ivory may be used for artwork or may be sold in bulk uncarved unless the carver/owner is certified as an Alaska Native artist.
Bona fide antique pieces can be acquired and sold by non-Natives, but Alaska has very strict regulations to conserve the population of walruses to ensure that the tusks are only available to Native peoples. I am not sure if some of these laws came out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 which deeded 44 million acres of Alaska to its Native people. I was an editor-writer covering Alaska beginning in 1973 as the state was dealing with the massive act, the distribution of land, the formation of the corporations and plans for dispersal of funds to individuals.
The eyes and blow hole are baleen, the large filtering material used by whales to separate water from the tiny krill and shrimp they eat. Like everything in whale proportions, strips of baleen are several feet long and made of a leathery plastic looking material with feather-like material extending outward to do the filtering.