Indigenous peoples in Alaska

According to U.S. Census Bureau 2005 estimates, Alaska Natives (as the indigenous peoples of Alaska are usually referred to) make up 16 percent of the Alaskan population of 663,661. This is in contrast to the 2000 census when the Alaska Native population of 119,241 made up 19 percent of Alaska’s population. The majority of Alaska Natives (58%) live in rural Alaska, often in remote villages where they live a predominantly subsistence lifestyle.

There is great diversity among Alaska Native cultures. There are four major cultural groups. These are the Yup’ik (Eskimo) of western Alaska, the Inupiat (Eskimo) of north-west and northern Alaska, the Athabascan Indians of interior Alaska, and the Tlingit and Haida Indians of south-east Alaska. Smaller groups include the Aleut, Alutiiq (Sugpiat) and Tsimshian.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) settled aboriginal land claims in Alaska by using business corporations as the vehicle through which to receive the settlement. There are 229 federally recognized tribal governments in Alaska that retain a special government-to-government relationship with the US government.

Download the 2007 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Alaska to read more about major developments and events during 2006