Alaska Native Artist Spotlight: Angela Gonzales (Athabascan)
3 mins read

Alaska Native Artist Spotlight: Angela Gonzales (Athabascan)

About the Author: Samantha Phillips is Tlingit – Kaagwaantaan, Eagle/Brown Bear from Klukwan and grew up in Yakut. As a young woman, she learned that her Tlingit grandmother had experienced discrimination and abuse while attending residential school. Speaking publicly about what her grandmother had endured was a powerful lesson for Samantha: Indigenous voices must be heard. With a focus on making a difference, she has passionately devoted her storytelling skills to a variety of writing endeavors. When she’s not writing in her current home in Madison, Alabama, Samantha is dedicated to creating memories through her life’s work: her six children.

Angela Łot’oydaatlno Gonzales is a passionate advocate for her Athabascan heritage, using digital platforms to share its richness with the world. Since 2008, she has run the dynamic blog Athabascan Woman, a nurturing space where she passionately preserves and celebrates her Alaska Native roots. In addition to her blog, Angela has launched a dedicated YouTube channel to teach the intricate arts of Athabascan beading and sewing, sharing her cultural treasures with a global audience.

“I come from a long line of storytellers,” Angela says, “and I see sharing stories as a way to keep traditions alive.” With her background in communications and media, Angela recognized the critical need to reclaim and redefine the narratives surrounding Alaska Native communities. Her mission is twofold: to showcase the diverse talents of her people and to educate others to appreciate and respect their cultural heritage.

For Angela, storytelling is not just a tradition; it is a vital bond that connects generations. Growing up in a family of storytellers, Angela has seen firsthand the power of storytelling in preserving cultural identity. Through her blog and videos, she beautifully weaves narratives that resonate across time, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity.

One of Angela’s most innovative projects is creating culturally themed Barbies, such as the Fish Camp Barbie and the Moosehide Tanning Barbie. These detailed miniature versions of Athapaskan cultural practices are not for sale. Instead, they are lovingly donated to Alaska Native nonprofits or auctioned off to support community initiatives. Through these artistic endeavors, Angela ingeniously uses popular culture to shine a light on the deep heritage of her culture.

Barbie, the fisherwoman. Photo credit: Angela Gonzales

Beyond her talents as a visual artist, Angela is a published author, having written two children’s books that joyfully celebrate her Athabascan roots. Her storytelling prowess extends to social media, where platforms like TikTok amplify her message to a global audience. A TikTok video featuring Fish Camp Barbie recently went viral, spreading awareness and appreciation for Alaska Native traditions around the world.

Angela is looking forward to more projects, including creating a Barbie that drives sled dogs. Her creative aspirations are driven by a deep commitment to educating and enlightening others about the realities of Alaska Native life. Angela’s goal is clear: to showcase the vibrancy and resilience of her community, dispel stereotypes, and invite everyone to discover their deep connection to the land.

Barbie tanning her moose hide. Photo credit: Angela Gonzales

Angela Gonzales is a role model, passionately asserting that Alaska Native communities thrive on culture, wisdom, and innovation. Through her digital platforms, she strives to foster understanding and appreciation of Athabascan heritage, inviting all to join in celebrating its richness. Her belief in the transformative power of art and storytelling unites people across borders, ensuring that the legacy of Athabascan traditions thrives for generations to come.

Learn more about Angela, her work, and Athabascan culture by visiting her blog or following her on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.