Aleutians East Borough

September 20, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Alaska, Community, History | Leave a comment
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I found by chance a website about some Aleutian villages in Alaska, called the Aleutians East Borough. They have a lot of municipal (school, jobs, the pipeline…) and economical information, as well as some historical facts that I resumed here:

Aleutians East Borough

Akutan, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove, Nelson Lagoon, Sand Point

Stretching from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula to the easternmost Aleutian Islands, the Aleutians East Borough is like no other place on earth.This is a wild, dramatic region bordered on one side by the North Pacific Ocean and the other by the Bering Sea. It has been home to generations of Aleut families since the Second Ice Age.Today, the region is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, warm, generous people and the rich diversity of seafood found in the waters around it.



The History of Akutan

Akutan churchAkutan was formed in 1878 when a number of Aleut families from surrounding islands established a village at this location. The Russian Orthodox Church supported this move and constructed a church at the site. Western Fur and Trading Co. built a fur storage and trading post, and its resident agent started a cod fishing business in the village. In 1912 the Pacific Whaling Company built a processing station, which operated until 1939.

Akutan’s proximity to the Bering Sea fishing grounds brought the crab and fish processing industry to the community in the late 40s, at first through the operation of floating processors, followed in the early 1980s by construction of a shore-based processing plant owned by Trident Seafoods.

The History Of Cold Bay

The Cold Bay area, near the southern edge of the Bering Land Bridge, probably played an important role in the migration of Asiatic people to North America during the last Ice Age. Recent archeological surveys have found the presence of numerous ancient refuse heaps, which suggest large populations of Native Aleut people at one time inhabited the area.During the coastal explorations by Europeans, Russian ships wintered in Bechevin Bay, about 40 miles west of Cold Bay. Count Feodor Lutke bestowed the name “Izembek” on the region in 1827 in honor of Karl Izembek, the surgeon aboard the sloop “Moller”. During the 1800s and early 1900s, subsistence hunters and trappers visited Cold Bay.The Japanese invasion of the Aleutians Islands during World War II stimulated the rapid construction of a series of American strategic bases. One of them was Fort Randall, a large air base built on the shores of Cold Bay in 1942. At the height of the Aleutian campaign, thousands of troops were stationed at Fort Randall. The base was abandoned after the end of the war, but the landscape still bears witness to its military history in the form of a myriad of roads, historical sites and, most importantly, its airport runways.

History of False Pass

False Pass man The Aleut name for the community is “Isanax,” which means “The Pass.” Shallow waters and the narrowness of the channel caused the village and strait to be called False Pass, but it is indeed a major throughway between the North Pacific and the Bering Sea for all but the largest vessels.

Originally homesteaded by William Gardner in the early 1900’s, the village began to grow when P.E. Harris established the first seafood cannery in False Pass in 1917. Many of the original buildings came from a cannery that was abandoned in Morzhovoi Bay, about 30 miles away. Natives immigrated from Morzhovoi, Sanak Island and Ikatan when the cannery was built. A post office was established in 1921. The cannery operated continuously, except for 1973 – 1976, when two hard winters depleted fish resources. It was eventually purchased by Peter Pan Seafoods and dominated the economy of the town for decades.

In 1981 most of the plant was consumed in a huge fire, although some buildings and facilities remain. Peter Pan still plays a vital role in the community with its private dock, fuel sales, and store. For more than 20 years the False Pass Tribal Council governed the community. Now a second class city, False Pass incorporated in 1990.

King Cove Description and History

The first recorded settler at the cove was a man named Robert King, who lived there in the 1880s. In 1911, Pacific American Fisheries built a large cannery and employed Aleut and other Native peoples, Asian workers, and Scandinavian workers. Many Native people came from the villages of Belkofski, Sanak and False Pass. The community incorporated as a first class city in 1947. Peter Pan Seafoods is the successor to PAF. The cannery has been operating since 1911 (it burned in the 1970s but was immediately rebuilt). It is the largest salmon cannery in North America and also processes crab, bottom fish, herring, and other fish year round. A dozen traditional use hunting and trapping camps have been noted around the shores of Cold Bay and Kinzarof Lagoon, dating from the first half of the twentieth century.

History of Sand Point

Sand Point was officially settled in 1887. The Lynde and Hough Company of San Francisco set up a supply station and cod fishing station on Humboldt Harbor. The town that grew up around this station adopted the name Sand Point. Aleuts from surrounding villages and Scandinavian fishermen were the first residents of the community. These influences can still be seen in the names and faces of Sand Point residents

Sand Point served as a repair and supply center for gold mining during the early 1900’s, but fish processing became the dominant activity in the 1930’s. The St. Nicholas Chapel, a Russian Orthodox church, was built in 1933 and is now on the National Register of Historical Places.

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The Red Book of Russian People: the Aleuts

September 17, 2008 at 8:26 am | Posted in Naming, Siberia | 6 Comments
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As promised, I am digging in the Red Book of Russian People website. Today it is the turn of the first group of tribes, the Paleo-Asiatic ones. And we start with the Aleutians. I wrote about them in this other post, and today we will read more about them:

The Aleuts

The present self-designation aleut was first suggested by the Russians who reached the Aleutian Islands in 1741 during an expedition led by V. Bering. Written sources have used the name since 1747 and gradually it has been adopted by the Aleuts. Final consolidation of the name took place in the first decades of this century. According to G. Menovshchikov the name is derived from an Aleut word allíthuh meaning ‘community; host’. The old self-designation unangan evidently applied to the eastern Aleuts only, meaning probably ‘coastal people’ (K. Bergsland). Local groupings and inhabitants of different islands are known to have also used other names for themselves.

Habitat

The Aleut people are the native inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands, the southwestern part of the Alaskan peninsula and the off-shore islands of Shumagin. Since the beginning of the 19th century there have been resettled Aleuts living on Commander Islands (Bering and Mednyi) which are under Soviet jurisdiction. The Aleut District in the Kamchatka Region was established in 1932. In 1969 the Aleuts of those two islands were gathered to live in Nikolskoye, Bering Island.

Population

In the middle of the 18th century, when Russians first explored the place, the islands were nearly all inhabited. The number of the Aleuts was estimated at approximately 25,000. Mass murder and enslavement of the natives reduced their numbers drastically. According to the data supplied by the missionary I. Veniaminov in 1834 there were less than 2,500 Aleuts left. The 1918 epidemics of smallpox and grippe took a further toll. In 1945 the anthropologist A. Hrolicka estimated the number of Aleuts at about 1,400. Nowadays the world number of the Aleuts is believed to be about 6,000. Part of the Eskimos of southeastern and southern Alaska also consider themselves Aleut. In the 1970s there were about 500 Aleuts living on the Commander Islands, but by 1984 their number had dropped to 300. On the US part of the Aleutian Islands a census was carried out in 1960 according to whose data there were 2,100 Aleut (mostly half-bred) who made up 35 % of the local population.

Anthropologically Aleuts are close to the Eskimo people belonging to the mongoloid Arctic race. Their mingling with other types often emphasized in academic literature is evidently not well grounded. Newer results prove that despite the historical heterogeneity of the Commander Aleuts their genetic structure is Aleut.

Origin

The Aleut people were believed to have first arrived on the Aleutian Islands from the coast of northeastern Asia or from Alaska, not earlier than 3,000 years ago. Latest research suggests that the aleuts arrival must have happened considerably earlier. Now the settlement of the Aleutians is associated with the time when there was still a land connection between America and Asia, that is, no later than 10–12 thousand years ago.

Language

The Aleut language, belonging to the Eskimo-Aleut languages, is considered as a member of the Paleo-Asiatic group. According to incomplete data the Aleut language can be divided into three dialects: Attu (Western), Atka and Unalaska (Eastern). The differences are small and do not impede mutual intelligibility. The present-day Aleuts are bilingual. The American Aleuts speak English, while the Asiatic Aleuts had already been russified by the beginning of the 19th century.

According to G. Menovshchikov the Aleuts of Bering Island speak the Atka dialect with a well-preserved basic vocabulary and grammatical structure. The version previously used on the Mednyi (Copper) Island was of the Attu dialect. In addition the strong Russian influence has produced a strange pidgin where verbs are conjugated by means of Russian suffixes, etc. Menovshchikov has suggested that the pidgin which is still spoken to a certain extent on Mednyi Island was at one time a lingua franca for Russians and the Aleut people.

Although the Aleut language has relatively much in common with Eskimo languages, the grammatical and lexical differences are considerable. The glotto-chronological method dates the linguistic divergence of the Aleut and the Eskimo peoples as at least 1000–2000 years back. Common developments can be traced in the phonology and word structure, but there are very few common roots in the lexis of the two languages. It is believed that the phonology of Aleut is more ancient than the Eskimo language.

The linguistic and cultural influence of Russian started to make itself felt by the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century practically all Aleuts living on Russian territories had been converted to Russian Orthodoxy. This was an efficient means of checking the local culture and language. On Bering Island the Russian influence has not penetrated to grammar yet, but some of it has been noticed in the vocabulary. The inhabitants of Mednyi Island are very much isolated from the remaining Aleut area. Nowadays their ordinary means of communication is Russian. Aleut has been preserved fragmentarily by the older members of but a few families but in general Aleut has receded before Russian.

Another strong wave of Russian swept over the islands during the Soviet period. Many Aleuts have left their native islands in search of better education. Ethnically pure marriages are rare, in most cases the spouse is found among another nation. According to R. Lyapunova the number of Aleuts living at Nikolskoye, Bering Island is about 300. About 200 live elsewhere, mostly on the Kamchatka peninsula. The same author points out that outside their own native islands the half-bred Aleuts refrain from calling themselves Aleut, but returning home they resume their ethnic identity.

History

[…]

Ethnic culture

The Aleut people have always derived their livelihood from the hunting of sea mammals (seals, fur-seals, etc.) and fishing. In the severe polar conditions the gathering of everything edible was also of great importance. Hunting and fishing gear was made of stone, bone and wood. Family relations were characterized by polygamy (both ways), giving away children to uncles to foster, and the mutual exchange of children.

According to traditional practice the catch and game belonged to the whole community, not to the hunter and his family only. The dwellings were half-earthen and large. Male as well as female clothing was made of animal and bird skins. Mats and baskets woven of grass were popular in every household. Traditional food consisted of the meat of sea mammals and seabirds, fish (eaten raw) and molluscs.

The sources of Russian cultural influence were the Russian administration, the Russian Orthodox Church and the parochial school. Folk art (pantomime dances, for example) still survived, but were practised in jealously guarded secrecy for fear of Russian disparagement.

Nowadays mink-farming and cattle-breeding as well as horticulture have developed in addition to the traditional branches of economy.

Those Aleuts who were forcefully resettled to the Commander Islands had to accommodate their life-style to the local natural conditions. There the winters are colder and there is more snow than on the Aleutian Islands. The inhabited northern part of Bering is just flat tundra, and Mednyi is rocky. New means of transport — the dog harness (also in summer) were introduced.

Nowadays folk culture survives to a certain extent thanks to the Museum of Local Lore, Children’s Art School and a folklore ensemble.

Writing

The Aleut people became an object of research following the Russian occupation. The initiative belonged to the missionary I. Veniaminov. Nowadays extensive research projects are under way in the USA. An Aleut writing system with its base the Cyrillic alphabet, was devised in the 19th century by I. Veniaminov and V. Metsvetov. As on Bering Island there was a parochial school (belonging to the Russian-American company), and nearly all adult men could read and write in Russian. In addition there was always a native Aleut around teaching children the same skills in the Aleut language. In 1867 when the Aleutian Islands were ceded to the USA the writing system fell into disuse. The teaching of the Aleut language to the US Aleuts was resumed in the middle of the 1970s only.

It seems that the situation it is very bad for them after the Russian occupation. It may be difficult to reach them during the travel, as they are perhaps hard to locate and contact. By the way, I should start thinking on updating my route map!

The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire

September 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Language, Naming, Siberia | Leave a comment
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Deepening into the geography of Russia is not easy, as it is en enormous country with lots of tribes and peoples. This website, The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire, offers a very good guide to wide our knowledgment, as it lists and describe a long list of Russian languages and tribes. It is based on a book with the same name published in Estonia, that you can also buy. I present the site today, and I will keep posting about the Nordic tribes later on:

The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire

Introduction

In the cliché-ridden propaganda of the Soviet era tsarist Russia was frequently dubbed the “prison of nations”. When the Soviets came into power this “prison”, by virtue of new national policies, transformed into a family of friendly and brotherly nations in whose bosom all the national cultures flourished. To boast of the achievements under the Communist Party leadership, grandiose cultural festivals were arranged in the Soviet republics, folkloristic dance, song and instrumental groups were established and the revival of old peasant culture was encouraged. The slogan “socialist in content, nationalist in form” came to be applied to the new Soviet culture. Behind this deceptive facade of ethnographic originality, the tsarist prison of nations never ceased to exist: russification was carried out on a large scale, nationalist intellectuals were persecuted, a policy of extensive exploitation of land was pursued and nations were continuously resettled and mingled. The desired result was the birth of a new, Russian-speaking “Soviet nation”, and to lay the theoretical foundation for this a whole army of scholars was employed. The evolution of the Soviet nation was seen as the process of history within the cognizance of Marxist-Leninist principles which was as inevitable as the process of life itself.

The recent rapid collapse of the Soviet economic and political system has revealed the consequences of these brutal colonization policies: hundreds of culturally and economically crippled nations, with the smallest of them nearing the crucial point of extinction.

[…]

The authors of the present book, who come from a country (Estonia) which has shared the fate of nations in the Russian and Soviet empires, endeavour to publicize the plight of the small nations whose very existence is threatened as a result of recent history. Perhaps it is not too late to give a supporting hand to them without an attempt at either ideological brainwashing or economic exploitation.

Peoples according to language groups

[I quote the only the groups related with this blog, if you want to read the complete list you have it here]

PALEO-ASIATIC PEOPLES: Aleuts, Aliutors, Asiatic Eskimos, Chukchis, Itelmens, Kereks, Kets, Koryaks, Nivkhs, Yukaghirs.

MANCHU-TUNGUS PEOPLES: Evens, Evenks, Nanais, Negidals, Orochis, Oroks, Udeghes, Ulchis.

URALIC PEOPLES: Enets, Ingrians, Izhorians, Karelians, Khants, Kola Lapps, Livonians, Mansis, Nenets, Nganasans, Selkups, Veps, Votes.

It seems that my work it has been multiplied now! But I see they use the language as a criteria to stablish the boundaries of a tribe, so I have not been wrong until the date. They offer also a selected bibliography of the different tribes for further research.

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