Alaskan Native Tribes
Alaska Natives are indigenous peoples of Alaska, United States: Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures. They are often defined by their language groups. Alaskan Natives are enrolled in federally recognized Alaska Native tribal entities, who in turn belong to 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations, who administer land and financial
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.
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.
Arriving from Siberia by ship in the mid-eighteenth century, Russians began to trade with Alaska Natives, especially when they learned the quality of their furs. New settlements around trading posts were started by Russians, including Russian Orthodox missionaries. British and American traders generally did not reach the area until the nineteenth century, and in some cases missionaries were not active until the twentieth century. This history is evident in the high number of congregations today of Russian Orthodox among Christians in Alaska, with most of their members being Alaska Natives.
Rather than hunting the marine life, the Russians forced the Aleuts to do the work for them. As word spread of the riches in furs to be had, competition among Russian companies increased and the Aleuts were forced into slavery. Catherine the Great, who became Empress in 1763, proclaimed good will toward the Aleuts and urged her subjects to treat them fairly. On some islands and parts of the Alaska Peninsula, groups of traders had been capable of relatively peaceful coexistence with the local inhabitants. Other groups could not manage the tensions and perpetrated exactions. Hostages were taken, families were split up, and individuals were forced to leave their villages and settle elsewhere. The growing competition between the trading companies, merging into fewer, larger and more powerful corporations, created conflicts that aggravated the relations with the indigenous populations. Over the years, the situation became catastrophic.
As the animal populations declined, the Aleuts, already too dependent on the new barter economy created by the Russian fur trade, were increasingly coerced into taking greater and greater risks in the highly dangerous waters of the North Pacific to hunt for more otter. As the Shelikhov-Golikov Company and later Russian-American Company developed as a monopoly, it used skirmishes and violent incidents turned into systematic violence as a tool of colonial exploitation of the indigenous people. When the Aleuts revolted and won some victories, the Russians retaliated, killing many and destroying their boats and hunting gear, leaving them no means of survival. The most devastating effects were from disease: during the first two generations (1741/1759-1781/1799 AD) of Russian contact, 80 percent of the Aleut population died from Eurasian infectious diseases; these were by then endemic among the Europeans, but the Aleut had noimmunity against the new diseases.