Today Alaska Natives represent approximately 16 percent of Alaska's residents, and are a significant segment of the population in over 200 rural villages and communities. Many Alaska Natives have retained their customs, language, hunting and fishing practices and ways of living since "the creation times."
Alaska's Native people are divided into over 200 villages which comprise eleven distinct cultures, speaking twenty different languages, in five geographic areas, organized under twelve Alaska Native Regional Corporations established by Congress under terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. All are federally recognized by the US Government except five tlingit villages who were left out of the Alaska native Claims settlement. Those are Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell and Tenakee.
Aleut & Alutiiq
The Aleut and Alutiiq peoples are south and southwest Alaska. The Aleut and Alutiiq cultures were heavily influenced by the Russians, beginning in the 18th century. The Orthodox Church is prominent in every village, Russian dishes are made using local subsistence food, and Russian words are part of common vocabulary although two languages, Unangax and Sugcestun, are the indigenous languages. The territory of the Aleut and Alutiiq stretches from Prince William Sound to the end of the Aleutian Islands. There are also over 300 Aleuts in Nikolskoye on Bering Island, Russia.
Chugachmiut or Chugach of the Prince William Sound area
Unegkurmiut of the lower Kenai Peninsula
Koniagmiut or Koniag of the Kodiak Island and Alaska 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.
The Inupiaq and the St. Lawrence Island Yupik People, or “Real People,” are still hunting and gathering societies. They continue to subsist on the land and sea of north and northwest Alaska. Their lives continue to evolve around the whale, walrus, seal, polar bear, caribou and fish.
The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian share a common and similar Northwest Coast Culture with important differences in language and clan system. Anthropologists use the term "Northwest Coast Culture" to define the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, as well as that of other peoples indigenous to the Pacific coast, extending as far as northern Oregon. The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian have a complex social system consisting of moieties, phratries and clans. Eyak, Tlingit and Haida divide themselves into moieties, while the Tsimshian divide into phratries. Although these four groups are neighbors, their spoken languages are not mutually intelligible.
These Tlingit tribesThey have no land, no rights to subsistence fishing and hunting.
Are Eskimos and Inuit the same people?
I answered a letter a while ago, from someone at a museum in Alaska. They wanted to know why Inuit (which I am of) dislike being called "Eskimos." After all, many Alaskans don't mind being called Eskimos, and even seem to dislike the term "Inuit" when southerners apply it them, however well-intentioned. I am not surprised by the confusion.
Alaskan Native Cultures
There are three types of Alaskan Natives with different cultural and linquistic history. They are Indian, Eskimo and Aleut. These are further defined by eleven distinct cultures.
Eskimo / Esquimaux
Eskimo is the term used when speaking of Inupiaq and Yupik people collectively or to mean all Inuit and Yupik people of the world.