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Alutiiq and Aleuts of Alaska

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Notables among the Alutiiq and Aleuts of Alaska.

The Aleut (Unangan) and Alutiiq (Sugpiaq), are south and southwest Alaska, maritime peoples, both with similar cultures and spoken dialects from the same language family, although not mutually intelligible. They are also considered unrelated, although there has been a significant amount of marriages between the groups, resulting in some Alutiiq families taking up residence in the Aleutian Islands with a designation of Unangan, whereas Aleuts stayed in the Kodiak region and ultimately became Sugpiaq. The Aleuts are generally a separate group, whereas the Alutiiq are considered Eskimo, as their spoken language is a dialect of Yup'ik.

The names of the groups are meant to reflect the designation of "Aleut" or "Aleuty", as commonly utilized during the Russian presence in Alaska. However, in modern times, the self-designation has grown considerably, with people, referring to themselves either as Aleut, Russian-Aleut, Unangan-Aleut, Sugpiaq-Aleut, Unangan, Unangax, or Sugpiaq. The usage of these terms can vary significantly, depending on the background of the people involved in the conversation. It is usually the affiliation with a particular Tribe in a certain geographical area that sets the people apart in a way that can be easily understood.

"The water is our living, whether it’s the creeks and rivers near villages, the shore outside or the vast waters of the North Pacific and Bering Sea. Knowledge of these resources and skill in harvesting them define the cycle of life in a village. The intensity of the weather that travels through our islands governs activities more than any other factor."