James Omnik Jr.

Baleen basket weaver James Omnik Jr. was born in Point Hope, Alaska, a village located on a spit of land jutting into the Chukchi Sea in Northwest Alaska. Point Hope is a subsistence village dependent upon fishing, gathering and hunting of marine mammals for food. The bowhead whale is the center of subsistence activities and the source of the baleen used in Point Hope baskets.

James learned the skill of baleen basket weaving from his father, James Sr. and his uncle, the late John Omnik. His grandfather, the late George Omnik, is recognized for introducing many of the prominent features of Point Hope baskets including flat lids, wide wefts, shouldered-cylinder shapes and his innovation, a characteristic narrative finial motif, usually scenes of polar bear hunting.

James Jr. has developed his own style of baskets distinguished by a conical shape, wide wefts and coils, use of white baleen and a hand-carved walrus ivory whale’s fluke finial.