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In The Community


All of Alaska's coastal Native peoples have traditional ties to lands that are now in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Our Neighbors
Inupiat
Yup'ik
Unangan/Aleut
Dena'ina Athabascans
Alutiiq Koniag
Tlingit
Haida
and all the "newcomers" who have arrived since 1745!

The Sea and the Land Provide
More than 11,000 years ago, the ancestors of today's Native people came to settle along Alaska's coast by this "sea of plenty".

High-Rise Grocery
For the first people, the wilderness provided a bounty of fresh delicacies and useful materials. In the long days of summer, freshly laid gull and murre eggs were gathered by young boys scaling cliffs. Birds were hunted by the Inupiat people of northern Alaska using bola and nets. The skins of 40 tufted puffins, or 25 cormorants, were stitched together by the Unangan people of the Aleutian Islands to make a single elaborate, full-length, reversible parka.

Moving with the Resources
Native peoples traveled from place to place in search of food resources, taking advantage of seasonal abundance. They located their camps and villages near cliffs, bays, reefs, and islets where they would have the greatest access to marine foods and materials for shelter and clothing.

Knowledge Passed Down
With skills, physical endurance, and traditional knowledge passed down through many generations, Native peoples were able to prosper when wildlife was plentiful and to survive through leaner times. Each animal was important to them.

Moons of Hunger, Moons of Plenty
The lives and languages of Alaska's Native peoples were shaped by their coastal environments. For example, the Unangan gave the seasons and months names that echo their way of life.

February: moon of last stored food
March: moon of eating skins
April: near hunger moon
May: moon of flowers, seal pups and the hunter-paddler
June: moon of eggs and seal yearlings
July: moon of red fish (salmon) and young seals
August: moon when grass is fading

Before "Newcomers"
Before contact with "newcomers" in the 1700s, the rich flora and fauna of the Aleutian Islands supported between 15,000 and 25,000 Aleuts. They built villages along the seacoasts and developed intricate societies supported by the abundant marine mammals, fish, seabirds, marine invertebrates, and seaweed. Evidence of these ancient villages still exists on nearly every island. Today Aleut communities are found on Atka, Adak, Umnak, Unalaska, Akutan, and Unimak islands in the Aleutians, and St. George and St. Paul islands in the Pribilofs.

 
Last Updated: Nov 01, 2013
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