International Travelers – Import & Export


In the Arctic, resources such as walrus ivory (old and new), whalebone, feathers, sea mammal skins, and mammoth ivory, while still available for use, are regulated by government agencies.

The laws do change therefore customers are urged to contact the appropriate agency if you have a question about a product or believe you need an export document of some kind.  The import export laws can be complex.  The best source of information is the country official who oversee the enforcement. In the United States, the following would be the best source.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

National Park Service

Department of Commerce and Economic Development Office of International Trade


Officials strongly advise that international tourists, returning home with craft items containing animal materials, bring proof of the type of materials included even if the item is said to be legal to export without. 

“Transportation of some objects out of the United States may require a CITES export permit. (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). CITES is a treaty with over 110 party nations.  The goal of CITES is to prevent over exploitation of and endangerment of wildlife and plants due to trade in live specimens by monitoring that trade.  Your U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law enforcement agent can advise you. Contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife for current information

In Summery

Remember that each country has its own rules and restrictions, although an item may be bought or sold in Alaska or the United States and legal to export, what is legal importation differ from country to country.  What may not be a problem in Japan, France, or Norway may be in Germany and Italy.  Endangered species or threatened species may or may not be legal for import or export in the United States.  Items made from sea mammal parts like pre-act Walrus bone & ivory as well as  Mastodon , Mammoth bone & ivory are exportable but may not be accepted by another country or require paperwork.  A country that would normally accept an item, but because of the lack of proper documentation may not and the item or items could be confiscated by customs officials.   


 (Laws do change, check the current status)



Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1972

16 U.S.C. 1361-1407

“Established by congress to protect species that were judged to be in danger of being diminished by Man, the Act includes specific exemptions for hunting and possession by Alaska Natives on the coast, provided that the hunt is for subsistence purposes or for manufacture into authentic Native handicraft and is not done in a wasteful manner.  Materials from walrus, seal, polar bear, and sea otter all are protected and regulated by this law.  Purchase and possession of authentic Alaska Native made objects containing these new materials is completely legal.”  This means that recently killed or animals taken by Alaska Natives in the manner prescribed above after the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 is legal for commercial trade.  Because this is a controversial issue and reasonable arguments reside on both sides it is up to the individual to determine whether it is proper or improper for them to purchase items from currently hunted animals. Ekemo Studios does not participate in  products made from newly taken animals.

Endangered Species Act Dec 21 1973

16 U.S.C. 1532

“Very similar to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in its intent to preserve threatened species, the Endangered Species Act affects Alaska Native artists”, and non Native Alaskan artists as defined in the Act, in the use of baleen and whalebone.  Various species of mammals, birds, fish, and plants are severely restricted in their use, but an exemption exists for Alaska Natives to harvest for subsistence use.”

“Whales are legally hunted, with limitations by Native Alaskans, and materials such as baleen and whalebone are used in Native handicraft.  These contemporary items cannot be sold outside the country”.  This pertains to items produced for commercial sale or trade from whales that are legally taken currently by Native hunters for subsistence from the by products left after the whale is used for a food source and other subsistence items.  Ekemo Studios does not use any materials from currently hunted whales.  Only legal pre-Act material from private land is used.




Archaeological Resource Protection Act

16 U.S. C. 470 ee

“Increased concern with destruction of the nation’s ancient sites and the loss of what they can tell us about the lives of past peoples is the motivation behind the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.  Enforcement of this Act falls under federal Land Management Agencies such as the National Park Service as many sites are on Park Land.  Removal of archaeological materials from Government land or Private land without permission of the owners is in violation of ARPA, as is tradeing in those materials.  Federal officials have seen the destruction of archaeological sites in the lower 48 states, and hope through education to prevent the problem from growing to similar proportions in Alaska.”

“Of concern to artists, Native landholders, collectors and shops is; how “old, mineralized” ivory is affected by the law.  While some officials claim that most old ivory is archaeological in origin, artifacts and tusks of old ivory that come from private land with the owners’ permission are legally available for use in carving.  “Mineralized” Ivory, whalebone of non –archaeological significance are available from private landholdings.  Proof that the source was private land is the only safe way to avoid being in violation of ARPA.”  Beach washed ivory or bone   that is from sea mammals and non-endangered species picked up by persons may be legitimately acquired and must be reported to the proper agency within 30 days.

Ekemo Studios materials come only from privately held land, all is pre-Act material to which no antiquity laws apply.