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(self-designation, Unungun), the native population of the Aleutian Islands (USA).
Aleuts number about 5,000 (1961). A small number of them (about 400 in 1959) have been living on the Commander Islands of the USSR since the early 19th century. Their language is Aleutian. Most scholars believe that the Aleuts came to the Aleutian Islands from Alaska, where they branched off from the closely related Eskimos about 4,000 years ago. Before the Russians discovered the Aleutian Islands in the 18th century, the Aleuts used wooden, stone, and bone tools and were familiar with the cold forging of native copper. Their occupations were hunting whales and other sea mammals, fishing, and foraging. In the early 19th century they adopted many traits of Russian culture and the Russian Orthodox religion. In 1932 the Aleut Raion was set up on the Commander Islands in the USSR, where most Aleuts work in a fur-farming sovkhoz. In the USA, under the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the economy and original culture of the Aleuts have been largely destroyed. Many Aleuts work for hire as unskilled laborers.
REFERENCESNarody Ameriki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Narody Sibiri. Moscow, 1956.
S. A. ARUTIUNOV