Aleut Culture


  The earliest people in this region, the Paleo-Aleuts, arrived in the Aleutian Islands from the Alaskan mainland about 2000 B.C. Aleuts are Alaskan Native people inhabiting the Aleutian Islands and coastal areas of southwest Alaska, and a small portion of the Aleutian Islands are in Kamchatka Krai, Russia. The Aleut are related culturally and linguistically to the Eskimo. Like the Eskimo, the Aleuts are racially similar to Siberian peoples. Russian fur traders gave the name Aleut to the Unanganin the mid-18th century. Aluet also refers to either or both dialects of their language. Their language is a member of the Eskimo-Aleut family, which branches into the Eskimo and Aleut language branches, and then two Aleut dialects. There are also other local names for people of various island groups to the east and west. Тhe Aleut people were distributed throughout the Aleutian Islands, the Shumagin Islands, and the far western part of the Alaska Peninsula, with an estimated population of around 25,000 before contact with Europeans. In the 1820s, the Russian-American Company resettled many Aleut families to the Commander Islands (within the Aleutsky District of the Kamchatka Krai in Russia) and to the Pribilof Islands in Alaska. These continue to have majority-Aleut communities. The number of Aleut had dwindled to about 2,000, as they suffered high fatalities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from Eurasian infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. In addition, the population suffered as traditional lifestyles were disrupted. While the Russian occupiers were few in number, they resulted in few full-blooded Aleuts remaining by 1910. When Alaska Natives enrolled in their regional corporations under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA), the Aleut Corporation attracted only about 2,000 enrollees who could prove a blood quantum of 1/4 or more Alaska Native (including Aleut). On the 1990 US Census, 11,941 people identified as being Aleut and nearly 17,000 said Aleuts were among their ancestors. People of partial Aleut descent, many of whom identify as Aleut and continue the culture, continue to live in relative isolation. Most are members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Aleut Communities:

  • Akhiok
  • Akutan
  • Atka
  • Belkofski
  • Cold Bay
  • False Pass
  • King Cove
  • Nelson Lagoon
  • Nikolski
  • Pauloff Harbor (Native Village of Nuiqsut)
  • Sand Point (Qagun Tayagungin Tribe)
  • St George
  • St. Paul
  • Unalaska (Dutch Harbor)(Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska)
  • Unga

Terms used to mean Aleut people:

Aleut - Alaskan Native people inhabiting the Aleutian Islands and coastal areas of southwest Alaska, and Kamchatka Krai, Russia. The Aleut are related culturally and linguistically to the Eskimo. Like the Eskimo, the Aleuts are racially similar to Siberian peoples.Russian fur traders gave the name Aleut to the Unanganin the mid-18th century. Aluet also refers to either or both dialects of their language. Their language is a member of the Eskimo-Aleut family, which branches into the Eskimo and Aleut language branches, and then two Aleut dialects. Unanga - The people's traditional name for themselves, meaning "original people." Unanganin - Plural form of Unanga. Unangan - Another traditional name for themselves, meaning "Seasider." Unangax̂ - Plural form of Unangan.
 

Article Index:

Common Aleut Objects

Here is a list of common objects made by the Aleut peoples.

Traditional dwellings of the Alutiiq and Aleuts

Traditional dwellings of the Alutiiq and Aleuts were called a barabara or barabora in Russian; ulax̂, ulaagamax, ulaq, or ulas (plural) in Aleut; or a ciqlluaq in Alutiiq ~ Sugpiaq. They are the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands.

Aleut Baidarka (Kayak)

The Baidarka or Aleut kayak was the watercraft created by the native Aleut (Unangan) people of the Aleutian Islands. Two types were created, one with a covered deck that was used as a hunting kayak, and another that was open and capable of carrying goods and people from one island to another.

Did you know Aleuts were sent to interrment camps during WWII? Documentary film tells their story
Unangan (Aleut) Heritage