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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an overview of the experiences of the four major cultural groups within the borders of modern Alaska: Eskimos (Yup’ik, Inupiat), Aleuts, Athabaskans, and the Haida and Tlingit Indians. After describing the nature of precontact Alaskan cultures, the chapter describes the era of Russian rule (dominated by the trade in sea otters, the violent subjugation of the Aleuts, and the advent of Russian Orthodox missionaries), the American purchase and its aftermath, the Second World War, and the tumultuous events accompanying the admission of Alaska to statehood in 1958. Throughout their encounter with outsiders, the indigenous peoples of Alaska have struggled with the introduction of new diseases, assaults on their subsistence traditions, and struggles over land ownership. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971) has ushered in a new period of improvement even though the state’s Native people continue to struggle with the ongoing effects of colonialism.

Keywords: Yup’ik and Inupiat Eskimos, Aleuts, Athabaskan, Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Angoon, Project Chariot, Rampart Dam, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

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