Known to Alaska Natives as “Oomingmak”, which means “The Bearded One”, this once-endangered animal produces an annual harvest of qiviut (kiv’-ee-ute), the finest wool in the world.
The non-profit Musk Ox Farm is dedicated to the domestication of the musk ox, an Ice Age mammal that once roamed the earth alongside saber-tooth tigers and woolly mammoths.
The wild musk ox have an interesting history here in Alaska. In the 1950’s they were close to extinction, and at the same time some of the villages in coastal Alaska were moving toward a cash economy that had never existed before – John Teal saw an opportunity for the Native people to live together peacefully with this animal such that both could thrive. Under his leadership and funding by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, assistance from the University of Alaska (and countless volunteers), the Musk Ox Project in Alaska was started.
In 1968 the Project began workshops teaching Alaska Native women in villages such as Mekoryuk, Bethel, St. Mary’s and Tununak how to knit the unique lacy pattern for qiviut garments. Within a year, 1969, the cooperative was formed: Oomingmak, Musk Ox Producers’ Cooperative – and within ten more years over two hundred native women were earning a cash income that was vital to assisting with expenses throughout the year.
Weather you are visiting the area or are a life-long Alaskan, this farm is well worth a drive to the MatSu Valley. These gentle giants are fascinating, and the new born calves will make your heart melt they are so cute!
The farm is open Mother’s Day through mid-September
Seniors 65+: $9.00
Children 5-17: $5.00
Open 7 days a week 10am-6pm
The farm offers a 45 minute scenic walk around the property in Palmer, while the staff shares with you their project history, the natural history of musk oxen, and the incredible potential these arctic ungulates have to offer communities in the far north. You will see frisky calves, seasoned old bulls, and the largest captive herd of musk oxen in the world.