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Home  >  Digital Archives  >  People of the North  >  Native Peoples
Aleut (Unangan)
By Tricia Brown

For thousands of years, the Aleut people, or Unangan, have occupied the islands along the great 1,300-mile arc called the Aleutian Island Chain. They were knowledgeable sailors who depended on the ocean for food and nearly every other aspect of living. Even driftwood, brought in by the tide, found good use in supporting their semi-subterranean homes, for carving, and other uses. Aleut basket-weavers are famous for the symmetry and beauty of their work. Because the earliest Russian fur traders first landed here, the Aleut culture was most heavily affected by outsiders. During World War II, two Aleutian islands were attacked by enemy forces. The U.S. government required residents throughout the Aleutians and the Pribilofs to abandon their homes. They were relocated to camps in Southeast Alaska for the duration of the war. Few of the islands are now occupied, and Aleuts are actively seeking to rediscover and rebuild that which was lost to them culturally.


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Island of St. Paul
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Canoes of Oonalashka
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Baskets and weavers, Attu, Alaska


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