The Indian Tribes of North America
by John R. Swanton
Bureau of American
Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953
Alaska (Part 1)
Ahtenn. Signifying "Ice People." Also called:
River Indians, popular name.
Intsi Dindjich, Kutchin
name, meaning "men of iron."
Ketschetnaer or Kolshina, Russian name meaning
Mednofski, Russian name meaning "copper river people."
Indians, by Ross (quoted by Dall, 1877).
Connections.—The Ahtena belonged to the Athapascan
linguistic stock. Physically they are said to bear a close resemblance to
the Koyukukhotana. (See Koyukan.)
Location.—In the basin
of Copper River.
to Allen (1887):
Miduusky, on Copper River from its mouth to Tazlina
River, and its branches.
Tatlazan, above the Tazlina.
to Hoffman (ms.):
Ikherkhamut, near the mouth of Copper River.
at the head of Copper River.
Kulchana, about headwaters of
the Kuskokwim and extending probably into the valley of Copper River, but
Osgood (1936) calls this "an erroneous generalized extension of the Ahtena
Kulushut, on Copper River next above the Ikherkhamut.
on Copper River next above the Kangikhlukhmut.
below the Kulchana (?).
with Ugslakmiut near the mouth of Copper River.
Batzulnetas, near upper
Copper River where the trail for Tanana River begins.
the left bank of Copper River, latitude 61- 57' N., longitude 145- 45' W.
on the east bank of Copper River below the mouth of Tonsina Creek.
near the mouth of Copper River, probably the original Alaganik.
on Nizina River near the mouth of Chitistone River, latitude
61- 21' N., longitude 143- 17' W.
Slana, at the confluence of Slana
and Copper Rivers.
Titlogat, probably of the Kulchana division. (Osgood
Toral, on Copper River at the mouth of Chitina River.
mouth of Copper River was discovered by Nagaieff in
1781, but expeditions into the interior met with such consistent hostility
on the part of the natives that for a long time they were a simple record of
failure. The attempts of Samoylof in 1796, Lastochkin in 1798, Klimoffsky in
1819, and Gregorief in 1844 all ended in the same way. Serebrannikof ventured
up the river in 1848, but his disregard for the natives cost him his life and
the lives of three of his companions. In 1882 after the cession of Alaska to
the United States, a trader named Holt ascended as Iar as Taral but on a subsequent
visit he was killed by the natives. In 1884 Lt. Abercrombie explored
a part of the river, and in 1885 a thorough exploration of the whole region
was made by Lt. Allen, who visited the Ahtena villages on Copper River and on
its principal tributaries. From that time on intercourse between the river people
and Whites has been increasingly intimate.
(1928) estimated 500 Ahtena for the year 1740. Petroff (1884) placed
their numbers in 1880 at not more than 300. Allen (1887) gave 366 on the
river and its branches. The census of 1890 returned 142, and that of 1910, 297.
In 1920 the total native population of Alaska speaking Athapascan dialects
was 4,657; in 1930, 4,935.
name of unknown origin but traced with some plausibility to the Chukchi word
aliat, meaning "island," which is supposed to have been bestowed upon the inhabitants
of the Aleutian Islands through a misunderstanding. Also called:
Knaiakhotana, name according to Petroff (1884).
own name, according to Dall (1886).
Aleut constituted the only widely divergent branch of the Eskimauan linguistic
stock, the remainder of the tongues of that family being closely related.
the Aleutuian Islands, the Shumagin Islands,
and the western part of Alaska Peninsula.
were two main subdivisions distinguished by difference in
dialect: (1) the Atka, on Andreanof, Rat. and Near Islands; and (2) the
Unalaska on the Fox and Shumagin Islands and Alaska Peninsula.
Attu, on Holt Bay (Chichagof
Harbor ?), Attu Island.
Korovinski, at Korovin Bay, on Atka Island.
on Atka Island.
Unalga, on Unalga Island, Andreanof group;
following ruined places on the single island of Agattu: Agonakagna.
Atkulik Atkigvin, Hachimuk, Hamnulik, Hanilik, Hapkug, Higtiguk, Hilksuk,
Ibin, Imik, Iptugik, Isituchi, Kakuguk, Kamuksusik, Kaslukug, Kigsitatok,
Kikchik, Kikun, Kimituk, Kitak, Kuptagok, Magtok, Mukugnuk, Navisok, Siksatok,
Sunik, Ugiatok, Ugtikun, Ugtumuk, Ukashik.
Akutan, on Akutan Island, close to Unalaska Island.
on Avatanak Island, between Unalsska and Unimak Islands.
near the end of Alaska Peninsula.
Biorka, on Piorka Island near Unalaska.
on Unalaska Island.
Eider, on Captain Bay, Unalaska
Iliuliuk, on Unalaska Island.
Kashiga, on Unalaska Island.
on Korovin Island.
Makushin, on Makushin Bay, Unalaska Island.
at Port Moller, Alaska Peninsula.
Morzhovoi, at the end
of Alaska Peninsula, formerly at the head of Morzhovoi and later on Traders
Cove which opens into Isanotski Bay.
Nateekin, on Nateekin Bay, Unalaska
Nikolaief, on Alaska Peninsula north of Belkofski.
on Unmak Island.
Pavlof, at Selenie Point, Pavlof Bay, Alaska Pensinsula.
near Pogromni volcano, on the north shore of Unimak Island.
at Pirate Cove, Popof Island, one of the Shumagins.
George, on St. George Island, Pribilof group.
Saint Paul, on Saint Paul
Island, Pribilof group.
Sannak, on Sannnk Island.
Unga, on Unga Island,
Vossnessenski, on Vossnessenski Island, in the Shumagin
Villages reported by later writers:
Agulok, on Unalaska
Akun, on Akun Island, between Unalaska and Unimak.
on Akun Island.
Beaver, on Unalaska Island.
Chaliuknak, on Beaver
Bay, Unalaska Island.
Ikolga, on Unalaska Island.
Imagnee, on Summer
Bay, Unalaska Island.
Itchadak, on one of the east Aleutian Islands.
on Unalaska Island.
Kutchlok, on Unalaska Island.
on Little Bay, Akun Island in the Krenitzin group.
Seredka, on Seredka
Bay in Akun Island.
Sisaguk, on Unimak Island.
Takamitka, on Unalaska
Tigalda, on Tigalda Island, one of the east Aleutians.
on Unalaska Island.
Tulik, on Umnak Island, near a volcano of the
Ugamitzi, on Unalaska Island.
Uknodok, on Hog Island, Captains
Veselofski, at Cape Cheerful, Unalaska.
Aleut became known to the Russians immediately after the
voyages of Chirikoff and Bering in 1741, the discovery of the islands themselves
being attributed to Mikhail Nerodchikof, September 1745. Though the natives
at first resisted the exactions of the foreign traders with courage, their
darts were no match for firearms, and they were not only cruelly treated themselves
but were forced into the service of their masters as allies in attacks
upon more distant peoples. It is said they were soon reduced to one tenth
of their former numbers. In 1794-1818 the Russian Government interfered to protect
them from exploitation, and their condition was somewhat improved, but
most of the improvement they experienced at Russian hands was due to the noted
missionary Veniaminoff, who began his labors in 1824. Through his efforts
and those of his fellow missionaries of the Greek Church, all of the Aleut were
soon converted, and they were to some extent educated. In 1867 they, with
the rest of the population of Alaska, passed under the control of the United
Population.—Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1740
there were 16,000 Aleut. Veniaminoff (1840) gave the Atka population as 750
in 1834 and the Unalaska population as 1,497. In 1848 Father Shaiesnekov enumerated
1,400 all told, a figure which was reduced to 900 as a result of the smallpox
epidemic of that year. Dall (1877) estimated that there were about 2,000,
and according to the census of 1890 there were 1,702, including 734 mixed-bloods.
The census of 1910 returned 1,451. The native Alaskan population speaking
Eskimauun dialects was 13,698 in 1920 and 19,028 in 1930.
in which they have become noted.—The name of the Aleut is
perpetuated in that of the Aleutian Islands, and from their language is derived
the word Alaska, applied to Alaska Territory, and to Alaska Peninsula, which
such a large number of the Aleut inhabit.
Dihai-kutchin. Signifying "Kutchin farthest downstream."
Dihai-kutchin were a band or tribe of the Kutchin
division of the Athapascan linguistic stock. They are added to Osgood's (1936)
list of true Kutchin tribes on the authority of Robert McKennan (1935).
Dihai-kutchin lived about the north fork of
Chandalar River, and the Middle and South Forks of the Koyokuk River, Alaska.
Dihai-kutchin were never numerous and are
now extinct as a separate body of Indians.
Eskimo. All of the coast lands of Alaska from Kayak Island near the
mouth of Copper River to the Canadian boundary on the Arctic coast were fringed
with Eskimo settlements except the upper end of Cook Inlet and that part
of Alaska Peninsula which, with the Aleutian Islands, was occupied by the cognate
Aleut. (See Aleut and Canada.)
A part of this tribe settled on Prince of Wales and Dall Islands early
in the eighteenth century and are locally known as Kaigani. (See Haida under
Canada.) The Kaigani population in 1910 numbered 530; in 1920, 524; and in 1930,
Han. Signifying "those who
dwell along the river."
Location.—The Yukon River drainage between latitude
64 and 66 N., in east central Alaska and Yukon Territory, Canada.
or Eagle group (about
the village of Eagle on Yukon River), including Johnny's Village and probably
also Charlie's Village or Tadush (near the mouth of Kandik River) Takon
of Nuklako (centering at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers),
and perhaps a third, Fetutlin (near the mouth of Forty Mile Creek.).
(1928) estimates that there were 200 Han
Ingalik. Name given by the
Eskimo but widely used as applied to these Indians.
Ingalik were one of the western-most divisions of the Athapascan
Location.—Between Anvik and Holy Cross
on the lower Yukon River, including the drainage of the Anvik River and the
region southeast to the Kuskokwim River, including its drainage above Georgetown.
(1934) makes the
(1) Anvik-Shageluk group, centering around
the villages bearing these names.
(2) Bonasila group, centering around
the village of the same name.
(3) Holy Cross-Georgetown group, centering
around the villages bearing those names.
(4) McGrath group, the people
of the drainage of the upper Kuskokwim River; this group somewhat arbitrarily
Villages Reported in this Area
a little above Kolmakof on Kuskokwim River.
at the junction of Anvik and Yukon Rivers.
C'hagvagchat, near the headwaters
of Anvik River.
Inselnostlinde, on Shageluk River.
on the east bank of Shageluk River.
Khugiligichakat, on Shageluk River.
near the headwaters of Kuskokwim River.
Koserefski, on the
left bank of the Yukon near the mouth of Shageluk Slough, later an Ikogmiut
Kuingshtetakten, on Shageluk River.
on the east bank of the Yukon River, 20 miles from Kvikak.
the north bank of Kuskokwim River.
Palshikatno, on Innoko River.
on Innoko River.
Tlegoshitno, on Shageluk River.
near the mouth of Innoko River.
Koyukon. A contraction of Koyukukhotana,
"people of Koyukuk River."
Koyukon belonged to the Athapascan linguistic stock.
the drainage of the Yukon River south of the mouth of the Tanana to
about latitude 63 N., including the drainage of the Innoko River north of the
latitude named, and of the Koyukuk River in west central Alaska.
on Yukon River between
the Anvik and Koyukuk, including the drainage of Innoko River north of latitude
Koyukukhotana, the drainage of the Koyukuk River.
the drainage of Yukon River south of the mouth of the Tanana to the
mouth of the Koyukuk.
Anilukhtakpak, on Innoko River.
Chinik, on the
east bank of Yukon River at the junction with the Talbiksok.
on Unalaklik River.
Innoka, on Tlegon River.
Ivan, on the divide between
Unalaklik and Yukon Rivers.
Kagogagat, on the north hank of Yukon
River at the mouth of Medicine Creek.
Kaiakak, on the west bank of Yukon
Kaltag, on the left bank of Yukon River.
Khulikakat, on Yukon River.
Klamaskwaltin, on the north
hank of Yukon River near the mouth of Kaiyuh River.
Kunkhogliak, on Yukon
Kutul, on Yukon River 50 miles above Anvik.
Lofka, on the west
bank of Yukon River.
Nulato, on the north bank of Yukon River about 100
miles from Norton Sound.
Taguta, on the north bank of Yukon River 15
miles below the mouth of the Kaiyuh.
Takaiak, east of Yukon River near
Talitui, on Tlegon River.
Tanakot, on the right bank of Yukon
River near the mouth of Melozi River.
Terentief, on the Yukon below
Tutago, on Yukon River at the mouth of Auto River.
on the east bank of Yukon River on a small stream north of Kaiyuh
(2) Koyukukhotana villages:
Batza, on Batza River.
on Yukon River 25 miles above the mouth of Koyukuk River.
on Koyukuk River.
Hussliakatna, on the right bank of Koyukuk
River, 2 miles above the south end of Dall Island.
Kakliaklia, on Koyukuk
River at the mouth of Ssukloseanti River.
Kaitat, on an island in Yukon
River not far from its junction with Koyukuk River.
Kanuti, on Koyukuk
River in latitude 66- 18 N.
Kautas, on Koyukuk River.
Kotil, at the
junction of Kateel River with Koyukuk River.
Koyukuk, near the junction
of Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers.
Mentokakat, on the left bank of Yukon River
20 miles above the mouth of Melozi River.
Nohulchinta, on the South Fork
of Koyukuk River 3 miles above the junction.
Nok, on the west bank
of Koyukuk River near its mouth.
Notaloten, on Yukon River 20 miles above
the mouth of Koyukuk River.
Oonignchtkhokh, on Koyukuk River.
on the left bank of the Yukon River below Nulato.
Tnshoshgon, on Koyukuk
Tlialil, on Koyukuk River.
Tok, on an island at the junction
of Koyukuk River with the Yukon.
Zakatlatnn, on the north bank
of Yukon River, in longitude 156- 30 W.
Zogliakten, on the east bank of
Zonagogliakten, on the east bank of Koyukuk River.
Chentansitzan, on the north bank of Yukon
River 30 miles below the mouth of Melozi River.
Medvednaia, on the
south side of Yukon River.
Melozikakat, on Melozikakat River.
on Yukon River.
Nowi, on the south side of Yukon River at the mouth of Nowikakat
Tohnokalong, on the north bank of Yukon River in longitude
154- 25 W.
Tuklukyet, on the north bank of Yukon River 15 miles
below the mouth of Tozi River.
began to penetrate the country of the Koyukon after the establishment of
the Russian settlement of Kodiak before any settlements had been made on the
Kuskokwim or Yukon. In 1538 the most important Russian settlement on the lower
Yukon was made at Nulato, and this was the center of one of the very few
native uprisings. The post was attacked by neighboring Indians in 1851 and most
of the inmates butchered. With American ownership in 1867 the influences of
civilization began to increase, and the current was swollen still further by
the discovery of gold, though this last was hardly to the advantage of the
aborigines. (See Ahtena.)
Population.—Mooney (1928) estimated
that there were 1,500 Koyukon in the year 1740. In 1890, 940 were returned.
Kutcha-kutchin. Signifying "those
who dwell on the flats," called Yukon Flats Kutchin by Osgood (1936). They
have also been called as follows, but the Eskimo terms are applicable to any
Fort Indians, Ross (MS).
Ik-kil-lin. Gilder quoted by Murdoch
Itchali, 11th Census, Alaska, p. 154.
Dall (1877, p. 30); Nuwukmiut Eskimo name.
Itkpe'lit, Petitot (1876, Vocab.,
Itku'dlin, Murdoch (1892).
Lowland people, Whymper (1868,
Na-Kotchpo-tschig-Kouttchin, Petitot (1891, p. 361).
Dawson (1888, p. 202B).
Youkon Louchioux Indians, Ross (MS.).
Kutcha-kutchin were a tribe belonging to the
Kutchin division of the northern section of the Athapascan linguistic family.
the valley of the Yukon from the widening
of the river a few miles above Circle to about Birch Creek below Fort Yukon.
at Fort Yukon and one at
Senati, on the middle Yukon.
History.—The history of all
the Kutchin tribes had best be treated in one place. They were first brought
into contact with Europeans when Alexander Mackenzie met some of them in 1789
during his descent of the river which bears his name. This became more intimate
with the establishment of the first Fort Good Hope in 1847. Until Alaska
passed into the hands of the United States practically all of the relations
which the Kutchin tribes had with Europeans were through the Hudson's Bay Company.
Since then influences from the west have been more potent. The discovery
of gold in the Klondike region and the rush which followed marked the opening
of a new era for these people, but one in which the bad for a long time outweighed
Population.—Mooney (1928) estimated
that there were about 500 of these Indians in 1740. The Kutcha-kutchin and the
Tranjikkutchin may be put together as Kutchin in the census of 1910, which
enters 359. The Hudson's Bay Co.'s census of 1858 gave 842 Kutchin belonging
to six tribes as resorting to Fort Yukon. Osgood (1936), who quotes this, believes
that the entire Kutchin population at that date might be set down at 1,200.
Connection in which they have become noted.—The
Kutchin tribes were noted for their greater energy and more warlike
character, as compared with neighboring Athapascans, and for a peculiar three-caste
system in their social organization.
Nabesna. From the name of Nabesna River, the meaning of which is unknown.
Nabesna belonged to the Athapascan
Location.—In the entire drainage area
of the Nabesna and Chisana Rivers, including the tributaries of the Tanana
River, which they form at their confluence, as far down as the Tok River; the
upper White River, including its tributaries the Beaver and the Snag, and
the headwaters of the Ladue; together an area roughly enclosed between latitude
61- 31 and 63- 30 N. and longitude 141- 30 and 143- 30 W. (Dr. Robert C. McKennan
through Osgood, 1936).
to McKennan (1935), including the following "extremely fluid
(1) Ranged about Last Tetling Lake and the Tetling River.
Ranged about the mouth of the Nabesna River.
(3) Ranged from the head
of the Nabesna through the upper Chisana River to the White.
from Scottie Creek to the Snag.
The first of these evidently includes
the Nutzotin of earlier writers with their villages of Nandell near
Wagner Lake and Tetling, and the third the Santotin. Khiltats, at the mouth
of Nabesna River, must have belonged to the second division.
(1887) mentions the village of Khiltats
at the mouth of the
contact with these people was made in 1885 and a settlement established at Chisana
Niska. This is a tribe
of the Chimmesyan linguistic family which was just beyond the boundaries of
Alaska to the southeast and at times hunted over some of its territory. It belonged
properly to British Columbia. (See Canada.)
Natsit-kutckin. Signifying "those who dwell off the flats [i.
e., Yukon River]." Also called:
Gens du Large, by Ross (MS), from which
came the name of
Natche'-Kutehin, by Dall (1877,
Neyetse-kutchi, by Richardson (1851, vol. 1, p. 399).
by Petitot (1891).
Natsit-kutchin were one of the tribes of the Kutchin group of the northern
division of the Athapascan linguistic stock.
Population.—Mooney (1928) estimated
200 Natsit-kutchin as of the year 1740. The census of 1910 returned 177. (See
Tanaina. Own name,
meaning "people" exclusive of Eskimo and Europeans. Also called Knaiakhotana.
Tanaina belonged to the Athapascan
Location.—According to Osgood (1934):
"The drainage of Cook Inlet north of Seldovia (59- 20 N. lat.), the north half
of Iliamna Lake and its drainage, including Clark Lake. Since contact, possibly
slight incursions have been made into territory formerly occupied by the
Eskimo, notably Seklovia Bay and portions of Iliamna Lake."
(1936) gives the following:
Lower Inlet (Seldovia and Kachemak Bay).
(2) Middle Inlet (Tustamena,
Skilak, and Kenai Lakes and the adjacent coast).
(3) Upper Inlet (Knik
arm of Cook Inlet and its drainage).
(4) Susitns (Susitna River and drainage).
Tyonek (west coastal region of Cook Inlet).
(6) Iliamna (region
of the north part of Iliamna Lake and its drainage).
Lake (the region about Clark Lake).
on the east side of Cook Inlet near the mouth of Kaknu River.
(not given by Osgood), on Cook Inlet at the mouth of Chuit River.
at the head of Knik Arm.
Iliamna, near the mouth of the
Kasilof, on the east coast of Cook Inlet at the mouth of
Kasnatchin, at Anchor Point, Kenai Peninsula.
on the east side of Cook Inlet at the mouth of Kaknu River.
noted by Osgood), on Lake Clark.
Knakatnuk, opposite Nitak on the west
side of Knik Arm, at the head of Cook Inlet.
Knik, near the mouth of Knik
Kultuk, on the east side of Cook Inlet near Nikishka.
on the west side of Cook Inlet below Tyonek.
Nikhkak, on Lake Clark.
near East Foreland at the head of Cook Inlet.
on the east coast of Cook Inlet south of the mouth of Kasilof River.
on the east side of Knik Bay at the head of Cook Inlet and near Eklutna.
on the south side of Skilak Lake, Kenai Peninsula.
on Kaknu River and forming part of the Kenai settlement.
Susitna River, Cook Inlet.
Titukilsk, on the east shore of Cook Inlet and
Tyonek, on the west side of Cook Inlet.
Zdluiat, on the
east side of Knik Bay south of Nitak.
received its name from Captain Cook who entered it in May 1778, but all
of the natives met by him seem to have been Eskimo. The Russian settlement of
Kodiak in 1784 marked an important event for the history of the region because
the Russians, assisted by Aleut hunters, at once began to exploit the animal
wealth of the neighboring region, and Cook Inlet was a principal scene of
their activities. In July 1786, Portlock and Dixon went to the very head of Cook
Inlet and must have had dealings with the Tanaina because they met with considerable
success in their trading operations. Captain Douglas visited the
inlet in 1788. Russian ownership gave place to ownership by the United States
in 1867, but Cook Inlet was exploited relatively little until the railroad line
was built from Seward to Fairbanks and skirted the head of the inlet for
many miles. The Tanaina Indians were one of the last groups in Alaska to receive
attention from ethnologists.
estimated that there were about 1,200 Tanaina in 1740. In 1818, 1,471 natives
were enumerated in Cook Inlet. In 1825 Baron Wrangell returned 1,299. Veniaminoff
(1840) gave 1,628 and in 1860 the Holy Synod returned 937. In 1869 Halleck
and Colyer returned the grossly exaggerated estimate of 25,000. The census
of 1880 returned 614 and that of 1890, 724. Mooney estimated 890 in 1900.