Location: State of Alaska
Surnames/tags: Alaska Tribes Native American History
Alaska First Early Inhabitants Timeline
35,000 - 10,000 years ago - The Glacial Period - During the last Ice Age, Alaska was covered by glacial ice. What is now the Bering Sea, separating Siberia from Alaska, was a wide and ice-free plain across which ancestral American Indians moved to North America, and then down the Pacific coast to the areas south of the ice sheets.
15,000 - 10,000 years ago - Shortly after the glaciers melted, the land looked very much as it does today, with caribou and muskoxen grazing the tundra, and walrus, seals, and whales - including bowhead whales - feeding in the channels between the Arctic islands. Indian hunters followed the migrating caribou northwards across the barren grounds, much as the Dene did in more recent times, but never reached the Arctic coast or islands.
10,000 - 5,000 years ago - North American Indians move northward to tree line with retreat of glaciers.
5,000 - 4,000 years ago - Tuniit (Dorset Culture people) cross Bering Strait and move eastward.
3,000 - 2,000 years ago - South Bering Sea and North Pacific people became North Alaska Inuit.
5,000 - 1,000 years ago -The Tuniit, or Dorset Culture The first people to arrive were the Tuniit. The earliest Tuniit brought with them two items of technology which allowed them to quickly occupy arctic North America: the bow and arrow, which may have reached America for the first time in their hands,
1,000 years ago - Thule (North Alaska Inuit) move eastward, displacing Tuniit .
Then, about 1,000 years ago, some of these North Alaska Inuit spread rapidly eastwards across arctic Canada and Greenland, quickly displacing the previous Tuniit occupants of the region and establishing the first Inuit occupation of Nunavut.
500 years ago - Inuit and the Little Ice Age Inuit culture in many parts of Nunavut underwent a significant change. Most regions of the High Arctic were abandoned, and many groups throughout the central portions of Nunavut gave up whaling and began to concentrate on hunting smaller sea mammals, caribou and fish.
Early History of Native Americans in Alaska
The Indigenous People of Alaska
The names of the Alaska tribes included the Chinook, Tillamook, Eyak, Salish and the Tlingit. The Native Indians of Alaska were divided into several groups. The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian (coastal Indians) consisted of several Indian tribes and are also known as First Nations. The Aleut lived in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of mainland Alaska. The native Athabascan Indians inhabited the interior of the state. There were two groups of Eskimos, the Inupiat (Northern Eskimos) and the Yupik (Southern Eskimos).
The first native inhabitants of the area now known as Alaska probably migrated from Siberia, part of what is now Russia, at the end of the last ice age ten to twelve thousand years ago. Although experts are unsure whether they traveled a land bridge or by boat, archeologists have found signs of different native groups dating back thousands of years in Alaska.
The Athabascan nations traveled throughout the vast inland in areas, surviving the difficult interior winters from the Brooks Range mountains east to the Yukon and south to the Kenai Peninsula. The Athabascans were made up of at least eleven subgroups, speaking different languages. The Athabascans were nomadic, traveling long distances in harsh conditions to hunt herds of caribou and moose, fish the rivers for plentiful salmon, and take advantage of Alaska's seasonal berries and plants.
Further north, the Inupiaks and Yupiks of St. Lawrence Island lived along the northern coast, hunting for seals and whales and surviving arctic winters on the frozen tundra. They also hunted polar bear and migrating caribou.
To the south along the coast lived the Yup'iks, and Cup'iks settled along the more western coastal areas north of the Aleutian islands. These people developed the uluaq (ulu) knife, a unique curve-bladed knife used to skin fish and game as well as chop and slice just about anything. Early examples of early stone bladed knives date back centuries.
Many of these native groups survive today, forming 16% of Alaska's population and contributing their cultural heritage throughout Alaska.
The European exploration of Alaska began with the 1741 voyages of Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikoff to the Aleutian Islands, the coasts of the Gulf of Alaska, and southeastern Alaska. Bering died from scurvy later that winter on an island named after him, Bering Island.
Around this time the British, Spanish, and French were exploring the coast of Alaska. The unregulated exploitation of the fur resources by rival companies led to a depletion of accessible fur areas and the killing and enslavement of the peaceful Aleut natives. Consequently, this led to the chartering of the Russian American Company in 1799. Under its first manager, Alexander Baranov, which was a period of about 20 years, there was an order and systematic exploitation of the fur resources.
The indigenous peoples of Alaska, known as Alaska Natives, have varied cultures and have adapted to harsh environments for thousands of years. They are as far north as Barrow and as far south as Ketchikan. Natives are indigenous peoples of Alaska: Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures. Ancestors of Alaska Natives are known to have migrated into the area thousands of years ago, in at least two different waves. Some are descendants of a third wave of migration in which people settled across the northern part of North America. They never migrated to southern areas. For this reason, genetic studies show they are not closely related to Native Americans in South America. Throughout the Arctic and northern areas, they established varying indigenous, complex cultures that have succeeded each other over time. Alaska Natives developed sophisticated ways to deal with the challenging climate and environment, and cultures rooted in the place. Historic groups have been defined by their languages, which belong to several major language families. alaska_natives
Alaska Natives History before Statehood: In the early spring of 1942, when the Army Corps of Engineers arrived to begin building the Alaska Highway, Alaska’s population was approximately 73,000. About half of those residents were Native Alaskans, members of indigenous groups who inhabited Alaska before it was colonized by Russia.
First Nations: A third group of Native Alaskans consisted of several Indian tribes (also known as First Nations). Two of the larger groups were the Tlingit and Haida, who resided in the southeastern inland region of Alaska. While these groups were adept at fishing, they were also known for their mountaineering skills. They were famed for their totem poles and their potlatches, gatherings of friends and family to celebrate important milestones in an individual’s life, such as a first hunt or a funeral. Both of these tribes were seasonally mobile hunter gatherers with their own distinguishing features, most prominently linguistic ones.
Illnesses: The influx of civilians and military personnel into Alaska had a devastating effect on the Native Alaskans, who had already suffered a negative impact. In the century of Russian and American colonization prior to World War II, contact with outsiders had subjected Native Alaskans to diseases for which they lacked immunity, including meningitis, influenza, chicken pox and whooping cough.
Incursions: With the newcomers’ arrival, Native Alaskans’ whole way of living became endangered. Highway-building made travel and access much easier within Alaska. During their recreation time, the Army engineers would go fishing, or go hunting with their military-issued guns, for which they otherwise had little use. Along the narrow corridor of the highway, the outsiders depleted the natural resources on which the Native Alaskans depended for subsistence. Nathan Jackson
Dwindling Minority: As a result of disease, cultural confusion and the growing number of whites, the percentage of Native Alaskans in the general Alaskan population plummeted from 45 percent in 1940 to 26 percent in 1950 to 19 percent at the time of statehood in 1959. The highway construction led to a new era for the original Alaskans.
A World Ended: Historian Ken Coates described the effect of the Alaska Highway on the area’s native population: “Construction projects transformed aboriginal life in the northwest very quickly and very profoundly. There was only occasional work to be found, they didn’t hire very many aboriginal people to work. The women got involved selling handicrafts and doing some domestic work… There were a lot of attacks on aboriginal people, some rapes of native women, for example. A lot of misuse of alcohol with aboriginal people. So, a world had ended. A lifestyle that had been in place in many ways for centuries, but certainly since the arrival of the fur traders in the middle of the 19th century. It’s a hundred years of fishing, and trapping, and sort of casual engagement with the market economy, poof, gone. Overnight.”
Subsistence: Gathering of subsistence foodstuffs continues to be an important economic and cultural activity for many Alaska Natives. In Barrow, Alaska in 2005, more than 91 percent of the Iñupiat households which were interviewed still participated in the local subsistence economy, compared with the approximately 33 percent of non-Iñupiat households who used wild resources obtained from hunting, fishing, or gathering.
But, unlike many tribes in the contiguous United States, Alaska Natives do not have treaties with the United States that protect their subsistence rights, except for the right to harvest whales and other marine mammals. The Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act explicitly extinguished aboriginal hunting and fishing rights in the state of Alaska.
Revitalization: Today, Alaska Natives account for just over 15 percent of the total Alaskan population of approximately 648,000 people. Since the 1960s and 1970s, aboriginal autonomy has rebounded in Alaska. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 officially ended native land ownership claims while creating regional corporations that administered approximately one-ninth of Alaskan territory; the shareholders of the corporations are the native peoples. The legal battles for rights to their ancestral land began a revitalization of native society that is evident today.
First People Tribes
The Aleuts, who are usually known in the Aleut language by the endonyms Unangan, Unangas, Унаңан, are the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands. Both the Aleut and the islands are divided between the US state of Alaska and the Russian administrative division of Kamchatka Kra off the coast of mainland Alaska and St. Paul Island, Alaska. Some anthropologists believe their ancestors migrated to the Aleutians 7,000 years ago. Aleuts had both permanent and seasonal homes. Permanent Aleutian villages consisted of underground homes mainly located on the northern coasts of the islands that faced the Bering Sea, due to the abundance of resources on that side. Aleutian culture is based heavily on the sea. They are famous fishers and hunters, and are known for their basketry.
The Aleuts lived on ice-free waters, but the Inuit (who are also known as the Eskimo) were surrounded by the icy northern seas of Western Alaska. As a result, the Inuit were more mobile that the Aleuts. One distinguishing feature of the Inuit Eskimo, family, in Alaska was their near total dependence on the sea. Their food, clothing, furnishing for their homes, and fuel all came from the marine life that they hunted, such as whales and seals. Their homeland stretches from the northeastern tip of Russia across Alaska and northern Canada to parts of Greenland. Inuit refers to the people formerly called Eskimos. The term Eskimo comes from a Native American word that may have meant ‘eater of raw meat’. They prefer the name Inuit, which means ‘the people’ or ‘real people’ and comes from a language called Inuit-Inupiaq.
As the Inuit spread eastward, they modified their way of life to suit the Arctic environments they encountered. They caught fish and hunted seals, walruses and whales. On land, they hunted caribou, musk oxen, polar bear and other small animals. They used animal skins to make tents and clothes. They crafted tools and weapons from the animals’ bones, antlers, horns and teeth. In summer, they traveled in boats covered with animal skin, called kayaks and in winter, on sleds pulled by dogteams. Most Inuit lived in tents in the summer and in large sod houses during the winter. When traveling in search of game in winter, they built snowhouses (igloos).
The Inupiat have inhabited the harsh arctic environment for more than 10,000 years. The ancestral Inupiat crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia. Some of the early migrants continued their journeys to the east and south. Those who remained in the region gradually established camps, small villages and trading routes. They are skilled hunters and gatherers an subsist on whale, fish, caribou and moose. Their diet is supplemented with berry and root plants native to the region.
The Aleuts are the native inhabitants of the present Aleutian islands stretching for about a thousand miles southwestward from the Alaskan mainland. Primarily a sea-going people, the Aleuts were adept at harvesting resources of the sea (sea lion, seals, whales, and fish) in their skin-covered boats as well as those of the land (birds, eggs, and plants).
The Yup’ik people live mainly in the coastal watersheds of the Yukon and the Kuskokwim Rivers both of which flow westward through Southwest Alaska and drain into the Bering Sea.
Having continuously inhabited the land for several thousand years, Athapaskan society exemplifies how humans can maintain a sustainable coexistence with their environment. Subsisting on the rich natural resources provided by the northern boreal forest, they have developed a deep respect for both the land and its animals.
The origin of the Tlingit people is not certain. It is possible the people came from the coast of Asia and Japan migrating north and east across the Aleutians and Gulf of Alaska into Southeast Alaska. Art forms and physical features of the Tlingit are similar to some Pacific groups.
Southeast Alaska provided an idyllic setting for the villages and contained abundant local resources. The forests supplied shelter, game and wild berries while the ocean was a storehouse of fish and sea mammals. In contrast to the Arctic peoples of Alaska, the Tlingits spent relatively little time surviving and were able to become traders and craftsmen.
A recent DNA study concludes that the original ancestors are and came to the area for 10,300 years. .
The original homeland of the Haida people is the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Canada. Prior to contact with Europeans, a group migrated north to the Prince of Wales Island area within Alaska. This group is known as the “Kaigani” or Alaska Haidas. Today, the Kaigani Haida live mainly in two villages, Kasaan and the consolidated village of Hydaburg. Before the Haida came in contact with Europeans, most Haida wore clothes made of woven red or yellow cedar bark. Women wore skirts and capes and men wore long capes. The Haida’s main food sources were the salmon and eulachon fish. The eulachon was highly prized because, besides being good to eat, its oil could be used for lighting lamps.
Alaskan Native Tribal Entities
There are 229 Federally Recognized Alaskan Native Tribal Entities. They are often defined by their language groups. These entities in turn belong to 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations, who administer land and financial claims; 12 of which are located in the State of Alaska. The 13th Regional Native Corporation was headquartered in Seattle, Washington, governing over Alaska Natives living in the "lower 48". This regional corporation received monetary contributions only, no land as the other 12 in Alaska. As of 2018, this 13th corporation had been dissolved.
Ancestors of the Alaska Natives are known to have migrated into the area thousands of years ago, in at least two different waves. Some are descendants of a third wave of migration in which people settled across the northern part of North America. They never migrated to southern areas. For this reason, genetic studies show they are not closely related to Native Americans in South America. Throughout the Arctic and northern areas, they established varying indigenous, complex cultures that have succeeded each other over time.
|Traditional qamutik (sled), Cape Dorset|
They developed sophisticated ways to deal with the challenging climate and environment, and cultures rooted in the place. Historic groups have been defined by their languages, which belong to several major language families.
Alaska Native Regional Corporations
Now the natives are grouped into Associations, Regional and Village Corporations. The Alaska Native Regional Corporations (Alaska Native Corporations or ANCSA Corporations) were established in 1971 when the United States Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) which settled land and financial claims made by the Alaska Natives and provided for the establishment of 13 regional corporations to administer those claims. Under ANCSA the state was originally divided into twelve regions, each represented by a "Native association" responsible for the enrollment of past and present residents of the region. Individual Alaska Natives enrolled in these associations, and their village level equivalents, were made shareholder in the Regional and Village Corporations created by the Act. The twelve for-profit regional corporations, and a thirteenth region representing those Alaska Natives who were no longer residents of Alaska in 1971, were awarded the monetary and property compensation created by ANCSA. Village corporations and their shareholders received compensation through the regional corporations. The fact that many ostensibly Alaska Native villages throughout the state were not empowered by the ANCSA to form village corporations later led to a number of lawsuits.
|No.||Native Corporation||Geographical Locations of Villages||Alaska Borough|
|8||Aleut Corporation||Aleutian Islands, Pribilof Islands and that part of the Alaska Peninsula which is in the Aleut Corporation||Aleutians East Borough; Unorganized Borough|
|1||Arctic Slope Native Association||Barrow, Point Hope, Point Lay, Wainwright, Atqasuk, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik, Anaktuvuk Pass||North Slope Borough|
|4||Association of Village Council Presidents||southwest coast, all villages in the Bethel area, including all villages on the Lower Yukon River and the Lower Kuskokwim River||Unorganized Borough|
|2||Bering Straits Association||Seward Peninsula, Unalakleet, Saint Lawrence Island||Unorganized Borough|
|7||Bristol Bay Native Association||Dillingham, Upper Alaska Peninsula||Dillingham Borough|
|9||Chugach Native Association||Cordova, Tatitlek, Port Graham, English Bay, Valdez, and Seward||Unorganized Borough|
|6||Cook Inlet Association||Kenai, Tyonek, Eklutna, Iliamna||Kenai Peninsula Borough,|
|12||Copper River Native Association||Copper Center, Glennallen, Chitina, Mentasta||Unorganized Borough|
|11||Kodiak Area Native Association||all villages on and around Kodiak Island||Kodiak Island Borough|
|3||Northwest Alaska Native Association||Kotzebue||Northwest Arctic Borough|
|5||Tanana Chiefs' Conference||Koyukuk, Middle and Upper Yukon Rivers, Upper Kuskokwim, Tanana River||Unorganized Borough|
|10||Tlingit-Haida Central Council||southeastern Alaska, including Metlakatla||Unorganized Borough|
|13||The 13th Regional Corporation||Non-resident Alaska Native||Not Applicable|
For more information on the Alaska Boroughs please see the Alaska Government Organization Page
The Aleut Corporation was established in 1972 under ANCSA. The corporation received a settlement of $19.5 million, and was entitled to 70,789 acres of surface lands and 1.572 million acres of subsurface estate. Voting shares of stock were issued to 3,249 shareholders.
Most of the Aleut Corporation’s ANCSA selections are on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian, Shumagin, and Pribilof Islands, situated between Port Moller and the Alaska Peninsula and the western tip of Atka Island. The corporation owns the village site of Attu as well as numerous historical and cemetery sites between Atka and the Alaska Peninsula.
The Aleut Corporation currently manages and sells sand, gravel, minerals and rock aggregates as part of its subsurface rights within the region.
The Corporation’s primary areas of business are real estate, government operations and maintenance contracting, aggregate sales, and investments in oil and gas producing properties and marketable securities.
People of the Aleutian Islands Aleut. Aleut Branch of the Eskimo people who occupy the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula. They are divided into two major language groups, the Unalaska and Atka. About 4000 Aleuts live in scattered villages throughout Southwest Alaska.
Aleut (in their own language they refer to themselves as Unangan) The area stretching from Prince William Sound west along the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutian Islands is home to the Aleut and Alutiiq peoples. The natural marine environment defines subsistence lifestyles and cultures that date back more than 8,000 years ago. The Aleuts and the Alutiiq differ in language and culture but a commonality was created from the first contact with the Russians in the 18th century that is evident today. The Alutiiq language, called Sugcestun or Alutiiq, is one of the Yupik branches of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. The Alutiiq are known for their skill in building and handling kayaks or baidarka, as the Russians called it. The Aleut, also known as Unangan, are known for being expert boat builders and sailors and well known for their kayaks. The Aleut language, Unangax, also derives from the Esk-Aleut family.
Ahtna, Incorporated is one of 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations established by Congress under terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.
Athabaskan Native culture; Ahtna, Inc., owns in fee title, approximately 1,528,000 acres in the Copper River Basin in east-central Alaska, conveyed in December 1998 from an entitlement of 1,770,000 acres. Seven villages within the Ahtna Region are merged with Ahtna, Inc., and all are Federally Recognized Tribes. Ahtna Inc. has approximately 1200 shareholders, of which the majority reside in the Copper River Region.
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is the largest locally owned and operated business in Alaska, with approximately 10,000 employees on its payroll, including more than 3,000 Alaskans. Revenues exceeded $2.5 billion in 2011, up from $2.3 billion in 2010. ASRC is owned by 11,000 Iñupiat Eskimo shareholders who live primarily in eight villages on Alaska’s North Slope, above the Arctic Circle. This is one of the most isolated and challenging environments in the United States. In 1990, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation became the first of only four Alaska Native corporations to enroll shareholders born after 1971. Today, nearly 70 percent of ASRC shareholders were born after 1971. Seventy-five percent of ASRC’s senior executives are Iñupiat, including the company’s president and chief executive officer.
Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) was formed in 1972 as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional Alaska Native Corporation for the Bering Strait region, which encompasses the majority of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and the coastal lands of eastern Norton Sound. This region is perhaps the most culturally diverse area in the state with three Native languages spoken: Siberian Yupik, Central Yup’ik, and Inupiaq. BSNC began with 6,333 original shareholders and owns and manages nearly two million acres of subsurface land selected by 17 village corporations.
Calista Corporation is one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) in settlement of aboriginal land claims. Calista was incorporated in Alaska on June 12, 1972.
The Calista Region covers Alaska’s Bethel and Kusilvak census areas and includes 48 permanent communities and eight seasonally occupied villages, located along the banks of the lower Yukon and the middle and lower Kuskokwim Rivers, Nunivak Island, and the Bering Sea coast from the mouth of the Yukon River, south to Cape Newenham.
Although the Calista region is in western Alaska, Calista Corporation is headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska. Calista is a for-profit corporation with 17,300 Alaska Native shareholders primarily of Yup’ik descent. The name Calista (worker) is a combination of the Central Alaskan Yup’ik words cali, meaning “to work,” and ista, meaning someone or something which does. The Yup’ik language does not have a word for “corporation.”
Chugach Alaska Corporation (CAC) is an Alaska Native Regional Corporation with its corporate headquarters located in Anchorage, Alaska. Chugach has more than 6,500 employees worldwide with regional offices in Washington, D.C., Nevada, Alabama and Hawaii. More than 2,200 shareholders of Aleut, Eskimo and Indian heritage elect the members of CAC’s Board of Directors (all of whom are Alaska Natives).
Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated is one of the 13 Alaska Native regional corporations. The geographic boundary of the Cook Inlet Region, Inc (CIRI) closely approximates the traditional homeland of the Dena’ina Athabascans.
Within the regional boundary are villages and group sites recognized under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. In addition, within the regional boundary is the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest urban center.
Cook Inlet Region, Inc. was incorporated in Alaska on June 8, 1972. Headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska, CIRI is a for-profit corporation, and is owned by more than 7,300 Alaska Native shareholders of Athabascan and Southeast Indian, Inupiat, Yup’ik, Alutiiq and Aleut descent
Inupiaq Culture: The history of the people of Alaska’s North Slope reaches back thousands of years, and serves as the foundation upon which ASRC will continue to build in order to benefit future generations. As a company owned and operated by Iñupiaq, ASRC relies on the teachings of the region’s ancestors and lives by the values passed on through countless generations. Iñupiaq values guide ASRC in actively managing its businesses, lands, resources and business relationships. Arctic Slope Corporation’s core values are the cornerstone of its success as a community partner and as a company. Many shareholders engage in subsistence lifestyles, and urban Iñupiat often return to their village to partake in seasonal hunting and whaling traditions.
The Athabascan people traditionally lived in Interior Alaska, an expansive region that begins south of the Brooks Mountain Range and continues down to the Kenai Peninsula. There are eleven linguistic groups of Athabascans in Alaska. Athabascan people have traditionally lived along five major river ways: the Yukon, the Tanana, the Susitna, the Kuskokwim, and the Copper river drainages. Athabascans migrated seasonally, traveling in small groups to fish, hunt and trap.
WIkiTree Native American Project Members
These are WikiTree members working to connect Native Alaskans to the one-world tree.
- ↑ Tlingit Alaskans Descend Settlers 10,000 years ago
- ↑ Wikipedia Alaska Native Corporations
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On 10 Dec 2018 at 17:54 GMT Shirley (Strutton) Dalton wrote:
This is a very impressive page! It looks really great. Only one thing, is it possible to add a section for people who have the Native American Project Badge and are working on Native Alaskans profiles?