Aleut Indians

Aleut Indians. A name of unknown origin but traced with some plausibility to the Chukchi word aliat, meaning “island,” which is supposed to have been bestowed upon the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands through a misunderstanding. Also called:

  • Takhayuna, Knaiakhotana, name according to Petroff (1884).
  • U-nung’un, own name, according to Dall (1886).

Aleut Connections. The Aleut constituted the only widely divergent branch of the Eskimauan linguistic stock, the remainder of the tongues of that family being closely related.

Aleut Location. On the Aleutian Islands, the Shumagin Islands, and the western part of Alaska Peninsula.

Aleut Subdivisions. There were two main subdivisions distinguished by difference in dialect: (1) the Atka, on Andreanof, Rat, and Near Islands; and (2) the Unalaska on the Fox and Shumagin Islands and Alaska Peninsula.

Aleut Villages

I. Atka Division

  • Attu, on Holt Bay (Chichagof Harbor ?), Attu Island.
  • Korovinski, at Korovin Bay, on Atka Island.
  • Nazan, on Atka Island.
  • Unalga, on Unalga Island, Andreanof group;

The following ruined places on the single island of Agattu: Agonakagna, Atkulik, Atkigyin, Hachimuk, Hamnulik, Hanilik, Hapkug, Higtiguk, Hilksuk, Ibin, Imik, Iptugik, Isituchi, Kakuguk, Kamuksusik, Kaslukug, Kigsitatok, Kikchik, Kikun, Kimituk, Kitak, Kuptagok, Magtok, Mukugnuk, Navisok, Siksatok, Sunik, Ugiatok, Ugtikun, Ugtumuk, Ukashik.

II. Unalaska Division:

  • Akutan, on Akutan Island, close to Unalaska Island.
  • Avatanak, on Avatanak Island, between Unalaska and Unimak Islands.
  • Belkofski, near the end of Alaska Peninsula.
  • Biorka, on Biorka Island near Unalaska.
  • Chernofski, on Unalaska Island.
  • Eider, on Captain Bay, Unalaska Island.
  • Iliuliuk, on Unalaska Island.
  • Kashiga, on Unalaska Island.
  • Korovinski, on Korovin Island.
  • Makushin, on Makushin Bay, Unalaska Island.
  • Mashik, at Port Moller, Alaska Peninsula.
  • Morzhovoi, at the end of Alaska Peninsula, formerly at the head of Morzhovoi and later on Traders Cove which opens into Isanotski Bay.
  • Nateekin, on Nateekin Bay, Unalaska Island.
  • Nikolaief, on Alaska Peninsula north of Belkofski.
  • Nikolski, on Umnak Island.
  • Pavlof, at Selenie Point, Pavlof Bay, Alaska Peninsula.
  • Pogromni, near Pogromni volcano, on the north shore of Unimak Island.
  • Popof, at Pirate Cove, Popof Island, one of the Shumagins.
  • Saint George, on St. George Island, Pribilof group.
  • Saint Paul, on Saint Paul Island, Pribilof group.
  • Sannak, on Sannak Island.
  • Unga, on Unga Island, Shumagin group.
  • Vossnessenski, on Vossnessenski Island, in the Shumagin group.

Villages reported by later writers:

  • Agulok, on Unalaska Island.
  • Akun, on Akun Island, between Unalaska and Unimak.
  • Artelnof, on Akun Island.
  • Beaver, on Unalaska Island.
  • Chaliuknak, on Beaver Bay, Unalaska Island.
  • Ikolga, on Unalaska Island.
  • Imagnee, on Summer Bay, Unalaska Island.
  • Itchadak, on one of the east Aleutian Islands.
  • Kalekhta, on -Unalaska Island.
  • Kutchlok on Unalaska Island.
  • Riechesni, on Little Bay, Akun Island in the Krenitzin group.
  • Seredka, on Seredka Bay in Akun Island.
  • Sisaguk, on Unimak Island.
  • Takamitka, on Unalaska Island.
  • Tigalda, on Tigalda Island, one of the east Aleutians.
  • Totchikala, on Unalaska Island..
  • Tulik, on Umnak Island, near a volcano of the same name.
  • Ugamitzi, on Unalaska Island.
  • Uknodok, on Hog Island, Captains Bay, Unalaska.
  • Veselofski, at Cape Cheerful, Unalaska.

Aleut History. The Aleut became known to the Russians immediately after the voyages of Chirikoff and Bering in 1741, the discovery of the islands themselves being attributed to Mikhail Nerodchikof, September 1745. Though the natives at first resisted the exactions of the foreign traders with courage, their darts were no match for firearms, and they were not only cruelly treated themselves but were forced into the service of their masters as allies in attacks upon more distant peoples. It is said they were soon reduced to one-tenth of their former numbers. In 1794-1818 the Russian Government interfered to protect them from exploitation, and their condition was somewhat improved, but most of the improvement they experienced at Russian hands was due to the noted missionary Veniaminoff who began his labors in 1824. Through his efforts and those of fellow missionaries of the Greek Church, all of the Aleut were soon converted, and they were to some extent educated. In 1807 they, with the rest of the population of Alaska, passed under the control of the United States.

Aleut Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1740 there were 16,000 Aleut. Veniaminoff (1840) gave the Atka population as 750 in 1834 and the Unalaska population as 1,497. In 1848 Father Shaiesnekov enumerated 1,400 all told, a figure which was reduced to 900 as a result of the smallpox epidemic of that year. Dall (1877) estimated that there were about 2,000, and according to the census of 1890 there were 1,702, including 734 mixed-bloods. The census of 1910 returned 1,451. The native Alaskan population speaking Eskimauan dialects was 13,698 in 1920 and 19,028 in 1930,

Connection in which the Aleut Indians have become noted. The name of the Aleut is perpetuated in that of the Aleutian Islands, and from their language is derived the word Alaska, applied to Alaska Territory, and to Alaska Peninsula, which such a large number of the Aleut inhabit.



Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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