Infobox Ethnic group
group = Aleut

Traditional Aleut dress
pop = 17,000 to 18,000
region1 = flagcountry|United States
pop1 = 17,000 [including 5,000 part-AleutFact|date=February 2007]
ref1 =
region2 = flagcountry|Russia
pop2 = 700
ref2 =
languages = English, Russian, Aleut
religions = Christianity, Shamanism
related-c = Inuit, Yupik
The Aleuts (self-denomination from Aleut language "allíthuh" 'community' [According to G. Menovshchikov; quoted in "Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire",] ; older or regional self-denomination unicode|Unangax̂, Unangan or Unanga 'coastal people') are the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, United States and Kamchatka Krai, Russia.


The homeland of the Aleuts includes the Aleutian Islands, the Pribilof Islands, the Shumagin Islands, and the far western part of the Alaska Peninsula. During the 19th century, the Aleuts were deported from the Aleutian Islands to the Commander Islands (now part of Kamchatka Krai) by the Russian-American Company.


After the arrival of missionaries in the late 18th century, many Aleuts became Christian by joining the Russian Orthodox Church. One of the earliest Christian martyrs in North America was Saint Peter the Aleut.

In 18th century, Russian furriers established settlements on the islands and exploited the people. (See Early history)

There was a recorded revolt against Russian workers in Amchitka in 1784. It started from the exhaustion of necessities that the Russians provided to local people in return for furs they had made. (See: Aleuts' revolt)

In 1811, Aleuts went to San Nicholas to hunt. There was argument over paying the Nicoleño for being allowed to hunt on their island, a battle began, and almost all of the native men were killed. By 1853, only one native was left. (See Island of the Blue Dolphins.)

Prior to major influence from outside, there were approximately 25,000 Aleuts on the archipelago. Barbarities by outside corporations and foreign diseases soon reduced the population to less than one-tenth this number, The 1910 Census count showed 1,491 Aleuts. In the 2000 Census, 11,941 people reported they were of Aleut ancestry; nearly 17,000 said Aleuts were among their ancestors. [ "The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2000", Table 5 found at] Alaskans generally recognize the Russian occupation left no full-blooded Aleuts. 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 enrolees who could prove a blood quantum of 1/4 or more Alaska Native (including Aleut).

In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces occupied Attu and Kiska Islands in the western Aleutians, and later transported captive Attu Islanders to Hokkaidō, where they were held as prisoners of war. Hundreds more Aleuts from the western chain and the Pribilofs were evacuated by the United States government during WW2 and placed in internment camps in southeast Alaska, where many died. The Aleut Restitution Act of 1988 was an attempt by Congress to compensate the survivors.

The World War II campaign to retake Attu and Kiska was a significant component of the operations of the Asian theater.

Culture and technology

Aleuts constructed partially underground houses called "barabaras". According to Lillie McGarvey, a 20th-century Aleut leader, "barabaras" keep "occupants dry from the frequent rains, warm at all times, and snugly sheltered from the high winds common to the area".

Traditional arts of the Aleuts include hunting, weapon-making, building of "baidarkas" (special hunting boats), and weaving. 19th century craftsmen were famed for their ornate wooden hunting hats, which feature elaborate and colorful designs and may be trimmed with sea lion whiskers, feathers, and ivory. Aleut seamstresses created finely stitched waterproof "parkas" from seal gut, and some women still master the skill of weaving fine baskets from rye and beach grass.

Aleut basketry is some of the finest in the world, and the tradition began in prehistoric times. Early Aleut women created baskets and woven mats of exceptional technical quality using only an elongated and sharpened thumbnail as a tool. Today, Aleut weavers continue to produce woven pieces of a remarkable cloth-like texture, works of modern art with roots in ancient tradition. The Aleut term for grass basket is "qiigam aygaaxsii".


While English and Russian are the dominant languages used by Aleuts living in the US and Russia respectively, the Aleut language is still spoken by several hundred people. The language belongs to the Eskimo-Aleut language family and includes three dialect groupings: Eastern Aleut, spoken on the Eastern Aleutian, Shumagin, Fox and Pribilof islands; Atkan, spoken on Atka and Bering islands; and the now extinct Attuan dialect. The Pribilof Islands boast the highest number of active speakers of Aleutian.

In popular culture

In Neal Stephenson's novel "Snow Crash", the character Raven is an Aleut harpooner seeking revenge for the US's nuclear testing on Amchitka.

The Aleut tribes are also the subject of the Sue Harrison's Ivory Carver Trilogy that includes "Mother Earth Father Sky", "My Sister the Moon", and "Brother Wind."

Aleuts are the subject of Irving Warner's 2007 historical novel about the Attuans held as prisoners of war in Japan, "The War Journal of Lila Ann Smith."

Dana Stabenow has published a series of mystery novels set in Alaska, U.S.A., the main character/ detective of which is an Aleut woman named Kate Shugak.

ee also

*Aleutian tradition
*Benny Benson {Russian-Aleut-Swedish} designer of the flag of Alaska
*Aleutian Islands


Further reading

* Jochelson, Waldemar. "History, Ethnology, and Anthropology of the Aleut". Washington: Carnegie institution of Washington, 1933.
* Kohlhoff, Dean. "When the Wind Was a River Aleut Evacuation in World War II". Seattle: University of Washington Press in association with Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association, Anchorage, 1995. ISBN 0295974036
* Murray, Martha G., and Peter L. Corey. "Aleut Weavers". Juneau, AK: Alaska State Museums, Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, 1997.
* Veltre, Douglas W. "Aleut Unangax̂ Ethnobotany An Annotated Bibliography". Akureyri, Iceland: CAFF International Secretariat, 2006. ISBN 9979977809

External links

*ru icon [ Commander Islands, Kamchatka, Russia] - About Commander Islands In Russian
*ru icon [ Aleut]
*en icon [ The AMIQ Institute] - a research project documenting the Pribilof Islands and their inhabitants

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aleut — n. a member of the people inhabiting the Aleutian Islands. Same as {Aleutian}, n. Syn: Aleutian. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aleut — [al′ē o͞ot΄, al′yo͞ot΄, ə lo͞ot′] n. [Russ < ? Chukchi aliuit, islanders ] 1. pl. Aleuts or Aleut a member of an indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands and parts of mainland Alaska 2. the language of this people, related to Eskimo adj. of… …   English World dictionary

  • Aleut — native of the Aleutian Islands, 1780, of unknown origin, probably from a native word. First applied by Russian explorers c.1750, perhaps from Alut, name of a coastal village in Kamchatka [Bright]. Their name for themselves is unangax …   Etymology dictionary

  • Aleut — /euh looht , al ee ooht /, n. 1. Also, Aleutian. a member of a people native to the Aleutian Islands and the western Alaska Peninsula who are related physically and culturally to the Eskimos. 2. the language of the Aleuts, distantly related to… …   Universalium

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  • Aleut Ka — Cyrillic alphabet navbox Heading=Cyrillic letter Aleut Ka uuc=051E ulc=051FAleut Ka (Majuscule: unicode| #x051E;, Minuscule: unicode| #x051F;) is used in Aleut Orthography to represent a Q.It is equivalent to a Bashkir Ka as well as Qaf …   Wikipedia

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  • Aleut — noun Etymology: Russian Date: 1780 1. a member of a people of the Aleutian and Shumagin islands and the western part of Alaska Peninsula 2. the language of the Aleuts …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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