Alaska Native Collections

September 28, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Alaska, Education, Maps, Naming, Siberia | 4 Comments
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Today I want to share a very good general resource I found las week: the Alaska Native Collections site, by the Smithsonian institute. Despite its name, the site includes information about Alaska but also about Russia or other polar contruies. The site is not only beautifully designed but also packed with a lot of maps, photographies and information, allowing the visitor to learn about the arctic cultures easily. If you just want to learn a few basics, you can do a quick reading, if you want to deep more, you just need to open the “Read more” sections.

Through the Sharing Knowledge project, members of Indigenous communities from across Alaska and northeast Siberia are working with the Smithsonian Institution and the Anchorage Museum to interpret the materials, techniques, cultural meanings, history, and artistry represented by objects in the western arctic and subarctic collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Studies Center, which organized and implemented the project, is a special research program within the Department of Anthropology, NMNH, with offices in Washington and at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.

The goals of Sharing Knowledge are to make the Smithsonian collections accessible to all and to support cross-cultural learning among Indigenous home communities, in schools, and around the world. Interest in the extraordinary arts and cultural heritage of the North is truly global in scope. Participants in this project are Elders, scholars, artists, and teachers who invite all to explore, learn, and appreciate.

The combined holdings of NMNH and NMAI are vast—more than 30,000 items from Alaska and northeast Siberia, most collected between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century. The great majority has never been published, exhibited, or seen by contemporary residents of source communities in the North. Collaborative study of these collections for Sharing Knowledge began in 2001-2005, with a series of trips to the museums in Washington by more than forty Elders and regional representatives. This documentation process will continue as many more objects are brought from Washington to new Smithsonian exhibition galleries and Arctic Studies Center facilities at the Anchorage Museum, starting in 2010. Through its alliance with the Arctic Studies Center (since 1993) and its planned physical expansion to house these programs and collections, the Anchorage Museum has become an important Smithsonian partner in fostering the collaborative work of museums and Native communities.

Object records on this site include edited transcripts of museum discussions as well as summaries drawn from history, anthropology, and recorded oral tradition. The Cultures section includes regional introductions and information about contributors. The Resources section offers reading materials, web links, and a curriculum guide with lesson plans designed for middle and high school students.

The Sharing Knowledge site reflects the current state of an on-going project, with inevitable gaps and uneven representation of the different cultural regions. It will grow over time as more information is recorded and new contributors can be brought into the discussion. Please watch the site for continually updated materials and features.

Photography (C) Larry McNeil

As I mentioned this place has tones and tones of info about the cultures and the people, so it seems an unforgetable place to ask for help whenever I can manage to do the big trip!

Fourth and last step: Russia and Japan

July 29, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Language, Maps | Leave a comment
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After some months, we finish this trip around the world with Ethnologue. We started in Alaska and Canada, passed by Greenland and Scandinavia, and now we finish in Russia and Japan. It has been a cool trip, right? Lets see what they have for Russia and Japan:

Russia (Asia) and Japan

Ainu: [ain] South Sakhalin Island and southern Kuril Islands. Dialects: Sakhalin (Saghilin), Taraika, Hokkaido (Ezo, Yezo), Kuril (Shikotan). Classification: Language Isolate Nearly extinct.

Aleut: [ale] 190 in Russia (2002 K. Matsumura). 5 on Bering Island Atkan (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 702 (1989 census). Nikolskoye settlement, Bering Island, Commander (Komandor) Islands. Alternate names: Unangany, Unangan, Unanghan. Dialects: Beringov (Bering, Atkan). Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Aleut

Aleut, Mednyj
: [mud] 10 (1995 M. Krauss). Copper Island, Komandor Islands. Alternate names: Medny, Copper, Copper Island Aleut, Attuan, Copper Island Attuan, Creolized Attuan. Classification: Mixed Language, Russian-Aleut Nearly extinct.

Alutor: [alr] 100 to 200 (2000 A. E. Kibrik). Ethnic population: 2,000 (1997 M. Krauss). Koryak National District, northeast Kamchatka Peninsula, many in Vyvenka village, 2 families in Rekinniki, and individual families in Tilichiki and Tymlyt. Some speakers are separated at considerable distances and without regular contact. Alternate names: Alyutor, Aliutor, Olyutor. Dialects: Alutorskij (Alutor Proper), Karaginskij (Karaga), Palanskij (Palana). Considered a dialect of Koryak until recently. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor

Chukot: [ckt] 10,000 (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 15,000. Chukchi Peninsula, Chukot and Koryak National Okrug, northeastern Siberia. Alternate names: Chukcha, Chuchee, Chukchee, Luoravetlan, Chukchi. Dialects: Uellanskij, Pevekskij, Enmylinskij, Nunligranskij, Xatyrskij, Chaun, Enurmin, Yanrakinot. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Chukot

Enets, Forest: [enf] 40 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 209 with Tundra Enets (1989 census). Taimyr National Okrug. Along the Yenisei River’s lower course, upstream from Dudinka. The Forest variety is in the Potapovo settlement of the Dudinka Region. Alternate names: Yenisei Samoyedic, Bay Enets, Pe-Bae. Dialects: Forest and Tundra Enets are barely intelligible to each other’s speakers. It is transitional between Yura and Nganasan. For a time it was officially considered part of Nenets. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed Nearly extinct.

Enets, Tundra: [enh] 30 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 209 together with Forest Enets (1990 census). Taimyr National Okrug. Along the Yenisei River’s lower course, upstream from Dudinka. ‘Tundra’ in the Vorontzovo settlement of the Ust-Yenisei Region. Alternate names: Yenisei Samoyedic, Madu, Somatu. Dialects: Tundra and Forest Enets barely intelligible to each other’s speakers. It is transitional between Yura and Nganasan. For a time it was officially considered part of Nenets. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed Nearly extinct.

Even: [eve] 7,543 (1989 census). Ethnic population: 17,199 (1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula, widely scattered over the entire Okhotsk Arctic coast. Alternate names: Lamut, Ewen, Eben, Orich, Ilqan. Dialects: Arman, Indigirka, Kamchatka, Kolyma-Omolon, Okhotsk, Ola, Tompon, Upper Kolyma, Sakkyryr, Lamunkhin. Ola dialect is not accepted by speakers of other dialects. A dialect cluster. It was incorrectly reported to be a Yukaghir dialect. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Northern, Even

Evenki: [evn] 9,000 in Russia (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 30,000 in Russia (1997 M. Krauss). Evenki National Okrug, Sakhalin Island. Capital is Ture. Alternate names: Ewenki, Tungus, Chapogir, Avanki, Avankil, Solon, Khamnigan. Dialects: Manegir, Yerbogocen, Nakanna, Ilimpeya, Tutoncana, Podkamennaya Tunguska, Cemdalsk, Vanavara, Baykit, Poligus, Uchama, Cis-Baikalia, Sym, Tokmo-Upper Lena, Nepa, Lower Nepa Tungir, Kalar, Tokko, Aldan Timpton, Tommot, Jeltulak, Uchur, Ayan-Maya, Kur-Urmi, Tuguro-Chumikan, Sakhalin, Zeya-Bureya. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Northern, Evenki

Gilyak: [niv] 1,089 (1989 census). Population includes 100 Amur, 300 Sakhalin (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 4,673 (1989 census), including 2,000 Amur, 2,700 Sakhalin (1995 M. Krauss). Sakhalin Island, many in Nekrasovka and Nogliki villages, small numbers in Rybnoe, Moskalvo, Chir-Unvd, Viakhtu, and other villages, and along the Amur River in Aleevka village. Alternate names: Nivkh, Nivkhi. Dialects: Amur, East Sakhalin Gilyak, North Sakhalin Gilyak. The Amur and East Sakhalin dialects have difficult inherent intelligibility of each other. North Sakhalin is between them linguistically. Classification: Language Isolate

Itelmen: [itl] 60 (2000). Ethnic population: 2,481 (1989 census). Southern Kamchatka Peninsula, Koryak Autonomous District, Tigil Region, primarily in Kovran and Upper Khairiuzovo villages, west coast of the Kamchatka River. Alternate names: Itelymem, Western Itelmen, Kamchadal, Kamchatka. Dialects: Sedanka, Kharyuz, Itelmen, Xajrjuzovskij, Napanskij, Sopocnovskij. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Southern

Karagas: [kim] 25 to 30 (2001). Ethnic population: 730 (1989 census). Siberia, Irkutsk Region. Alternate names: Tofa, Tofalar, Sayan Samoyed, Kamas, Karagass. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Northern Nearly extinct.

Kerek: [krk] 2 (1997 M. Krauss). There were 200 to 400 speakers in 1900. Ethnic population: 400. Cape Navarin, in Chukot villages. Dialects: Mainypilgino (Majna-Pil’ginskij), Khatyrka (Xatyrskij). Previously considered a dialect of Chukot. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor Nearly extinct.

Ket: [ket] 550 to 990 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,222 (2000). Upper Yenisei Valley, Krasnoyarski krai, Turukhansk, and Baikitsk regions, Sulomai, Bakhta, Verkhneimbatsk, Kellog, Kangatovo, Surgutikha, Vereshchagino, Baklanikha, Farkovo, Goroshikha, and Maiduka villages. East of the Khanti and Mansi, eastern Siberia. Alternate names: Yenisei Ostyak, Yenisey Ostiak, Imbatski-Ket. Classification: Yeniseian

Koryak: [kpy] 3,500 (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 7,000. Koryak National Okrug, south of the Chukot; northern half of Kamchatka Peninsula and adjacent continent. Alternate names: Nymylan. Dialects: Cavcuvenskij (Chavchuven), Apokinskij (Apukin), Kamenskij (Kamen), Xatyrskij, Paren, Itkan, Palan, Gin. Chavchuven, Palan, and Kamen are apparently not inherently intelligible. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor

Nenets: [yrk] 26,730 (1989 census). Population includes 1,300 Forest Nenets, 25,000 Tundra Nenets. Ethnic population: 34,665 (1989 census) including 2,000 Forest Enets. Northwest Siberia, tundra area from the mouth of the northern Dvina River in northeastern Europe to the delta of the Yenisei in Asia, and a scattering on the Kola Peninsula; Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets, and Taimyr national okrugs. Alternate names: Nenec, Nentse, Nenetsy, Yurak, Yurak Samoyed. Dialects: Forest Yurak, Tundra Yurak. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Nganasan: [nio] 500 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,300. Taimyr National Okrug, Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia, Ust-Avam village in the Dudinka Region; Volochanka and Novaya villages in the Khatang Region. They are the northernmost people in Russia, near the Yakut, Dolgan, and Evenki peoples. Alternate names: Tavgi Samoyed. Dialects: Avam, Khatang. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Oroch: [oac] 100 to 150 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 900 (1990 census). Eastern Siberia in the Khabarovsk Krai along the rivers that empty into the Tatar Channel, on Amur River not far from the city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure. Many live in the Vanino Region in Datta and Uska-Orochskaya settlements. Some live among the Nanai. Alternate names: Orochi. Dialects: Kjakela (Kjakar, Kekar), Namunka, Orichen, Tez. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Southern, Southeast, Udihe

Orok: [oaa] 30 to 82 in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 33 to 85. Ethnic population: 250 to 300 (1995 M. Krauss). Sakhalin Island, Poronajsk District, Poronajsk town, Gastello and Vakhrushev settlements; Nogliki District, Val village, Nogliki settlement. Also spoken in Japan. Alternate names: Oroc, Ulta, Ujlta, Uilta. Dialects: Poronaisk (Southern Orok), Val-Nogliki (Nogliki-Val, Northern Orok). Significant differences between dialects. For a while Orok was officially considered part of Nanai. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Southern, Southeast, Nanaj Nearly extinct.

Selkup: [sel] 1,570 (1994 Salminen, 1994 Janhunen). Northern Sel’kup has 1,400 speakers out of 1,700, Central Sel’kup has 150 speakers out of 1,700, Southern Sel’kup has 20 speakers out of 200. Ethnic population: 3,600. Tom Oblast, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Krasnoyarski Krai and Tomskaya Oblast. The northern dialect is spoken in Krasnoselkup Region, Krasnoselkup, Sidorovsk, Tolka, Ratta, and Kikiyakki villages; part of the Purovsk Region, Tolka Purovskaya village; adjacent regions of the Krasnoyarski Krai; Kureika village, Kellog, and Turukhan River basin and Baikha. The southern dialect (Tym) is spoken in a range of villages in the northern part of the Tomskaya Oblast. Alternate names: Ostyak Samoyed. Dialects: Taz (Northern Sel’kup, Tazov-Baishyan), Tym (Central Selk’up, Kety), Narym (Central Sel’kup), Srednyaya Ob-Ket (Southern Sel’kup). A dialect continuum with difficult or impossible intelligibility between the extremes. Speakers in the south are separated from others. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Yugh: [yuu] 2 or 3 (1991 G. K. Verner in Kibrik). Nonfluent speakers. Ethnic population: 10 to 15 (1991 G. K. Verner in Kibrik). Turukhan Region of the Krasnoyarsk Krai at the Vorogovo settlement. Previously they lived along the Yenisei River from Yeniseisk to the mouth of the Dupches. Alternate names: Yug. Classification: Yeniseian Nearly extinct.

Yukaghir, Northern: [ykg] 30 to 150 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Ethnic population: 230 to 1,100 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Alternate names: Yukagir, Jukagir, Odul, Tundra, Tundre, Northern Yukagir. Dialects: Distinct from Southern Yukaghir (Kolyma). It may be distantly related to Altaic or Uralic. Classification: Yukaghir Nearly extinct.

Yukaghir, Southern
: [yux] 10 to 50 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Ethnic population: 130 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Alternate names: Yukagir, Jukagir, Odul, Kolyma, Kolym, Southern Yukagir. Dialects: Not inherently intelligible with Northern Yukaghir. Classification: Yukaghir Nearly extinct.

Yupik, Central Siberian: [ess] 300 in Russia (1991 Kibrik). Ethnic population: 1,200 to 1,500 in Russia (1991 Kibrik). Chukchi National Okrug, coast of the Bering Sea, Wrangel Island. The Chaplino live in Providenie Region in Novo-Chaplino and Providenie villages. Alternate names: Yoit, Yuk, Yuit, Siberian Yupik, “Eskimo”, Bering Strait Yupik, Asiatic Yupik. Dialects: Aiwanat, Noohalit (Peekit), Wooteelit, Chaplino. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Siberian

Yupik, Naukan: [ynk] 75 (1990 L.D. Kaplan). Ethnic population: 350. Chukota Region, Laurence, Lorino, and Whalen villages, scattered. Formerly spoken in Naukan village and the region surrounding East Cape, Chukot Peninsula, but they have been relocated. Alternate names: Naukan, Naukanski. Dialects: 60% to 70% intelligibility of Chaplino. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Siberian.

The situation is quite depressing, with a lot of languages that are tagged as “nearly extinct”… Here you have, as usually, the map for the zone. As Russia is a huge country, Ethnologue has one general index map, which I am showing here, and then some more detailed maps, that you can find clicking here:

First step: Alaska and Canada

March 12, 2008 at 1:17 am | Posted in Language, Maps, Naming | 3 Comments
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I’m working with Ethnologue trying to stablish the linguistic braches related with the North culture and lifestyle. I’ve made some interesting finds. Some language families spoken in Alaska and Canada are spoken also in Siberia, the North of Russia. That is exciting, as makes me wonder how it happened, so expect some future research into that direction.

Anyway, that is what I have found:

In the United States of America there are 293,027,571 people. Population includes 1,900,000 American Indians, Inuits, and Aleut, not all speaking indigenous languages (1990 census). The National or official languages are Hawaiian (in Hawaii) and Spanish (in New Mexico). The number of languages listed for USA is 238. Of those, 162 are living languages, 3 are second language without mother-tongue speakers, and 73 are extinct. All the Inuit and Aleut languages are still alive.

[ale] 300 in the USA (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 490. Ethnic population: 2,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Western Aleut on Atka Island (Aleutian Chain); Eastern Aleut on eastern Aleutian Islands, Pribilofs, and Alaskan Peninsula. Also spoken in Russia (Asia). Dialects: Western Aleut (Atkan, Atka, Attuan, Unangany, Unangan), Eastern Aleut (Unalaskan, Pribilof Aleut). Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Aleut

Inupiatun, North Alaskan
[esi] Ethnic population: 8,000. Norton Sound and Point Hope, Alaska. Also spoken in Canada. Alternate names: North Alaskan Inupiat, Inupiat, “Eskimo”. Dialects: North Slope Inupiatun (Point Barrow Inupiatun), West Arctic Inupiatun, Point Hope Inupiatun, Anaktuvik Pass Inupiatun. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Inuit

Inupiatun, Northwest Alaska
[esk] 4,000 (1978 SIL). Speakers of all Inuit languages: 75,000 out of 91,000 in the ethnic group (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 8,000 (1978 SIL). Alaska, Kobuk River, Noatak River, Seward Peninsula, and Bering Strait. Alternate names: Northwest Alaska Inupiat, Inupiatun, “Eskimo”. Dialects: Northern Malimiut Inupiatun, Southern Malimiut Inupiatun, Kobuk River Inupiatun, Coastal Inupiatun, Kotzebue Sound Inupiatun, Seward Peninsula Inupiatun, King Island Inupiatun (Bering Strait Inupiatun). Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Inuit

Yupik, Central
[esu] 10,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 21,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Nunivak Island, Alaska coast from Bristol Bay to Unalakleet on Norton Sound and inland along Nushagak, Kuskokwim, and Yukon rivers. Alternate names: Central Alaskan Yupik. Dialects: Kuskokwim Yupik (Bethel Yupik). There are 3 dialects, which are quite different. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Alaskan

Yupik, Central Siberian
[ess] 1,050 in the USA (1995 Krauss). Population total all countries: 1,350. Ethnic population: 1,050 in USA (1995 Krauss). St. Lawrence Island, Alaska; Gambell and Savonga villages, Alaska. Also spoken in Russia (Asia). Alternate names: St. Lawrence Island “Eskimo”, Bering Strait Yupik. Dialects: Chaplino. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Siberian

Yupik, Pacific Gulf
[ems] 400 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 3,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island (Koniag dialect), Alaskan coast from Cook Inlet to Prince William Sound (Chugach dialect). 20 villages. Alternate names: Alutiiq, Sugpiak “Eskimo”, Sugpiaq “Eskimo”, Chugach “Eskimo”, Koniag-Chugach, Suk, Sugcestun, Aleut, Pacific Yupik, South Alaska “Eskimo”. Dialects: Chugach, Koniag. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Alaskan


In Canada there are 32,507,874 people, including 32,000 Inuit ethnic total (1993): 146,285 first-language speakers (1981 census). The National or official languages are English and French. Literacy rate: 96% to 99%. The number of languages listed for Canada is 89. Of those, 85 are living languages and 4 are extinct.

Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian
[ike] 14,000 (1991 L. Kaplan). Ethnic population: 17,500 (1991 L. Kaplan). West of Hudson Bay and east through Baffin Island, Quebec, and Labrador. Alternate names: Eastern Canadian “Eskimo”, “Eastern Arctic Eskimo”, Inuit. Dialects: “Baffinland Eskimo”, “Labrador Eskimo”, “Quebec Eskimo”. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Inuit

Inuktitut, Western Canadian
[ikt] 4,000 (1981). All Inuit first-language speakers in Canada 18,840 (1981 census). Ethnic population: 7,500 (1981 census). Central Canadian Arctic, and west to the Mackenzie Delta and coastal area, including Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast north of Inuvik (but not Inuvik and Aklavik, and coastal area). Alternate names: Inuvialuktun. Dialects: Copper Inuktitut (“Copper Eskimo”, Copper Inuit), “Caribou Eskimo” (Keewatin), Netsilik, Siglit. Caribou dialect may need separate literature. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Inuit.Inupiatun, North Alaskan.

Inupiatun, North Alaskan
[esi] Mackenzie delta region including Aklavik and Inuvik, into Alaska, USA. Alternate names: North Alaskan Inupiat, Inupiat, Inupiaq, “Eskimo”. Dialects: West Arctic Inupiatun (Mackenzie Inupiatun, Mackenzie Delta Inupiatun), North Slope Inupiatun. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Inuit

Here you have the wonderful Ethnologue maps as well:


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