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Sugpiat (pl)
Sugpiaq (sg) Sugpiak (dual)
A Sugpiaq dancer
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sugcestun, English, Russian
Russian Orthodox Church, traditional religion
Related ethnic groups
Yup'ik, Aleut
Salmon drying. Alutiiq village, Old Harbor, Kodiak Island. Photographed by N. B. Miller, 1889

The Alutiiq people (pronounced /əˈltɪk/ in English; from Promyshlenniki Russian Алеутъ, "Aleut";[1][2][3] plural often "Alutiit"), also called by their ancestral name Sugpiaq (/ˈsʊɡˌbjɑːk/ or /ˈsʊɡpiˌæk/; plural often "Sugpiat"), as well as Pacific Eskimo or Pacific Yupik, are a southern coastal people of Alaska Natives.

Their traditional homelands include Prince William Sound and outer Kenai Peninsula (Chugach Sugpiaq), the Kodiak Archipelago and the Alaska Peninsula (Koniag Alutiiq). In the early 1800s there were more than 60 Alutiiq villages in the Kodiak archipelago, with an estimated population of 13,000 people. Today more than 4,000 Alutiiq people live in Alaska.[4]


At present, the most commonly used title is Alutiiq (singular), Alutiik (dual), Alutiit (plural). These terms derive from the names (Алеутъ, Aleut) that Russian fur traders and settlers gave to the native people in the region.[5] Russian occupation began in 1784, following their massacre of hundreds of Sugpiat at Refuge Rock (Awa'uq) just off the coast of Sitkalidak Island near the present-day village of Old Harbor (Nuniaq).[6]

Given the violence underlying the colonial period, and confusion because the Sugpiaq term for Aleut is Alutiiq, some Alaska Natives from the region have advocated use of the terms that the people themselves use to describe their people and language: Sugpiaq (singular), Sugpiak (dual), Sugpiat (plural) — to identify the people (meaning "the real people"), and Sugstun, Sugcestun, Sugt'stun, or Sugtestun to refer to the language. All three names (Alutiiq, Aleut, and Sugpiaq) are used now, according to personal preference.[7] Over time, many other ethnonyms were used to refer to this people.[8]


Laminar armour of hardened leather enforced by wood and bones worn by the Chukchi, Aleut, and Chugach (Alutiiq)[9]
Late lamellar armour worn by indigenous peoples of Siberia

Fishing and housing[edit]

The people traditionally lived a coastal lifestyle, subsisting primarily on ocean resources such as salmon, halibut, and whale. They supplemented these maritime foods with rich land resources, such as berries and land mammals. Before contact with Russian fur traders, they lived in semi-subterranean homes called ciqlluaq. Today, in the 21st century, the Alutiiq live in coastal fishing communities in more modern housing. They work in all aspects of the modern economy, while also maintaining the cultural value of subsistence.


In 2010 the high school in Kodiak responded to requests from Alutiiq students and agreed to teach the Alutiiq language. It is one of the Eskimo–Aleut languages, belonging to the Yup'ik branch of these languages.[10] The Kodiak dialect of the language was being spoken by only about 50 persons, all of them elderly, and the dialect was in danger of being lost entirely.[11]

Notable Alutiit[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Report on Population and Resources of Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890". United States Census Office - Alaska - 1893. (= "The Kaniagmiut, to whom the Russians applied the name of Aleut")
  2. ^ "East Prince William Sound Landscape Assessment" (PDF). Cordova Ranger District, Chugach National Forest. September 9, 2008. (= "The term Alutiiq is the Sugtestun pronunciation of the Russian-introduced name Aleut and is commonly used as a self-designation by the people of the Chugach region"; Russian: Алутиик)
  3. ^ "Mapping Alaska's Native languages". Archived from the original on 2015-01-06. (= Names derived from a combination of Russian and Native words include: Alutiiq, from the Russian word Aleut (a term something like English "Eskimo" but referring to the people of the Aleutian Islands, the Alaska Peninsula, and the Kodiak archipelago); plus the Russian plural suffix -y; plus the Native singular suffix -q)
  4. ^ ""Alutiiq / Suqpiaq Nation"" (PDF). Alutiiq Museum.
  5. ^ Richmond, Laurie Shannon (February 2011). "Regulating a Mystery: Science, colonialism, and the politics of knowing in the Pacific halibut commons" (PDF). Conservancy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-24.
  6. ^ Pullar, Gordon L. (2010). "Assimilation and Identity among the Kodiak Island Sugpiat" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-07-09.
  7. ^ "Looking Both Ways". Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
  8. ^ DeHass, Medeia Csoba (January 2012). "What is in a Name?: The Predicament of Ethnonyms in the Sugpiaq-Alutiiq Region of Alaska". Arctic Anthropology. 49: 3–17. Archived from the original on 2020-05-18. (= "Aleut," "Alutiiq," "Sugpiaq," "Russian," "Pacific Eskimo," "Unegkuhmiut," and "Chugach Eskimo" are all different names that have been used to identify the group of Native people living on the Lower Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.)
  9. ^ "Tlingit, Eskimo and Aleut armors". Kunstamera. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  10. ^ Krauss, Michael (1990). "Alaska Native Languages in Russian America". In Smith, Barbara S.; Barnett, Redmond J. (eds.). Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier. Tacoma, WA: Washington State Historical Society. pp. 205–213.
  11. ^ "Kodiak High School Adding Alutiiq Language Class". Jacob Resnick KMXT/Alaska Public Radio Network. December 17, 2010.
  12. ^ "2007 Fellows Individual Pages - MacArthur Foundation". Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2018-10-14.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]