An Inupiat baleen basket, with an ivory handle, made by Kinguktuk (1871–1941) of Barrow, Alaska, as seen displayed at the Museum of Man, San Diego, California.
Baleen basketry is not old. Developed as an Alaska Native art by the Inupiat people in and around Barrow after commercial whaling's termination in the early 20th century, the style copies older willow-root basketry but is made of baleen, the flexible material found in the mouths of the 15 species of the Mysticeti suborder of whales, the baleen whales, such as gray whales. The baleen whales' baleen plates include the "bristles" or "hairs" that filter the whales' food, such as krill, from the ocean water the whales take into their mouths.
Confusingly, the term "whalebone" is applied not only to whale bones but often to baleen, too, that is actually made of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair.
The vast majority of producers of baleen baskets are men, Kinguktuk being generally recognized as the first and perhaps the only one as late as 1931.