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For the language, see Alutiiq language.
Sugpiat (pl)
Sugpiaq (sg) Sugpiak (dual)
A Sugpiaq dancer man with Agnguaq
Regions with significant populations
Sugcestun, English
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 language is called Sugstun. It is one of Eskimo languages, belonging to the Yup’ik branch of these languages.[4] They are not to be confused with the Aleuts, who live further to the southwest, including along the Aleutian Islands.

At present, the most commonly used title is Alutiiq [sg] Alutiik [dual] Alutiit [pl]. However, these terms derive from the names (Алеутъ Aleut) that Russian fur traders and settlers gave to the native people in the region.[5] But, the ethnonyms of Sugpiaq-Alutiiq are a predicament.[6]

Russian occupation began in 1784 with the 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).[7] The Sugpiaq term for Aleut is Alutiiq. All three names (Alutiiq, Aleut, and Sugpiaq) are used now, according to personal preference.[8]

Some Alaska Natives from the region have advocated the use of the terms that the people use to describe their people and language: Sugpiaq [sg] Sugpiak [dual] Sugpiat [pl] to describe the people (meaning "the real people") and Sugstun, Sugcestun, Sugt'stun, Sugtestun to describe the language. They traditionally lived a coastal lifestyle, subsisting primarily on ocean resources such as salmon, halibut, and whale, as well as rich land resources such as berries and land mammals. Before contact with Russian fur traders, the Alutiiq lived in semi-subterranean homes called ciqlluaq.

In the 21st century, the Alutiiq today live in coastal fishing communities, where 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 students and agreed to teach the Alutiiq language. 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.[9]

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.[10]

Notable Alutiit[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Report on Population and Resources of Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890 by United States Census Office - Alaska - 1893 (= "The Kaniagmiut, to whom the Russians applied the name of Aleut")
  2. ^ East Prince William Sound Landscape Assessment, 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")
  3. ^ Mapping Alaska's Native languages (= 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. ^ Michael Krauss: "Alaska Native Languages in Russian America." In: Barbara S. Smith & Redmond J. Barnett, Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier, pp. 205–213. Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, WA, 1990.
  5. ^ Laurie Shannon Richmond (2011), "Regulating a Mystery: Science, colonialism, and the politics of knowing in the Pacific halibut commons", Conservancy, February 2011
  6. ^ Medeia Csoba DeHass, "What is in a Name?: The Predicament of Ethnonyms in the Sugpiaq-Alutiiq Region of Alaska", Arctic Anthropology. January 2012, pp. 49:3-17 (= "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.)
  7. ^ Pullar, Gordon L. 2010. Assimilation and Identity among the Kodiak Island Sugpiat, 2010
  8. ^ "Looking Both Ways", Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution]
  9. ^ "Kodiak High School Adding Alutiiq Language Class", Jacob Resnick KMXT/Alaska Public Radio Network 12-17-2010
  10. ^ "Alutiiq / Suqpiaq Nation", Alutiiq Museum
  11. ^ 2007 Fellows Individual Pages - MacArthur Foundation

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]